|Publication number||US7890367 B2|
|Application number||US 11/742,934|
|Publication date||Feb 15, 2011|
|Filing date||May 1, 2007|
|Priority date||Mar 29, 2001|
|Also published as||CA2442518A1, EP1386268A2, EP1386268A4, US7398225, US7428498, US7496524, US7613628, US7613629, US7813955, US8024220, US8050968, US8065182, US8155999, US8458026, US8626582, US8639568, US8732013, US20020143626, US20020188509, US20030130895, US20070112631, US20070112632, US20070124204, US20070198354, US20080077498, US20080077499, US20090094118, US20090125402, US20090299845, US20110078011, US20110302020, US20120016730, US20120041813, US20120197706, US20130132185, US20140143041, US20140195314, WO2002079925A2, WO2002079925A3|
|Publication number||11742934, 742934, US 7890367 B2, US 7890367B2, US-B2-7890367, US7890367 B2, US7890367B2|
|Inventors||Medina J. Senghore, Tracey R. Thomas, Fauziah Ariff|
|Original Assignee||American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (357), Non-Patent Citations (51), Referenced by (9), Classifications (71), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a continuation-in-part of, and claims priority to, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/836,213, entitled “System and Method for Networked Loyalty Program” and filed on Apr. 17, 2001, which itself claims benefit to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/279,817, entitled “System and Method for Networked Incentive Awards Program” and filed Mar. 29, 2001, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
The present invention relates generally to purchaser incentive and awards redemption programs, and more specifically, to the capture of retailer item identifiers from filtered merchants, and the matching of such retailer item identifiers with corresponding manufacturer item identifiers to facilitate, for example, data analysis and the provision of incentives and awards to consumers.
Incentive award programs have been developed in a variety of industries to promote customer loyalty. Generally, such programs reward customers for repeat business with the same merchant or service provider by accumulating reward points which can then be redeemed in a plurality of ways, including exchanging the reward points for additional goods and services that may be selected from an approved list or a redemption catalog for example. The reward points are usually calculated using a predetermined formula or ratio that relates a customer's purchase volume (i.e., in terms of money value or some other volume parameter) to a certain number of reward points. For example, reward points may be issued on a one-for-one basis with each dollar that a customer spends on particular goods and services.
One well-known example of a customer incentive program is a “frequent flyer” program which rewards airlines passengers with “mileage points” based upon the distances that the passengers fly with a particular airline. The mileage points may then be redeemed for free airfare or free car rentals. Other incentive award programs are designed to induce usage of particular financial instruments, such as credit cards or debit cards, by accumulating reward points or dollar value points based upon the volume of purchases made using the particular financial instrument. These types of programs maybe designed such that customers of the financial institution accumulate reward points which can be redeemed for selected goods or services or, alternatively, such that customers accumulate points which have a dollar value which can be applied toward a credit or debit balance, depending on whether the instrument is a credit or debit instrument, for example.
These and other similar incentive award programs are described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,774,870 and 6,009,412 issued to Thomas W. Storey and assigned to Netcentives, Inc., both of which are hereby incorporated by reference to the extent that they describe an automated rewards system. U.S. Pat. No. 5,689,100 and 5,956,695 issued to Carrithers et al. and assigned to Maritz, Inc., both of which are also incorporated by reference, further disclose incentive award programs wherein purchase data is filtered at the merchant level. For more information on loyalty systems, transaction systems, electronic commerce systems, and digital wallet systems, see, for example, the Shop AMEX™ system as disclosed in Ser. No. 60/230,190 filed Sep. 5, 2000; the MR as Currency™ and Loyalty Rewards Systems as disclosed in Ser. No. 60/197,296 filed on Apr. 14, 2000, Ser. No. 60/200,492 filed Apr. 28, 2000, and Ser. No. 60/201,114 filed May 2, 2000; a digital wallet system as disclosed in U.S. Ser. No. 09/652,899 filed Aug. 31, 2000; a stored value card as disclosed in Ser. No. 09/241,188 filed on Feb. 1, 1999; a system for facilitating transactions using secondary transaction numbers as disclosed in Ser. No. 09/800,461 filed on Mar. 7, 2001; and also in related provisional applications Ser. No. 60/187,620 filed Mar. 7, 2000, Ser. No. 60/200,625 filed Apr. 28, 2000, and Ser. No. 60/213,323 filed May 22, 2000, all of which are herein incorporated by reference. Other examples of online membership reward systems are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,774,870, issued on Jun. 30, 1998, and U.S. Pat. No. 6,009,412, issued on Dec. 29, 1999, both of which are hereby incorporated by reference. A further example of a loyalty and reward program may be found at the AIR MILES® Web site (www.airmiles.ca), which describes a loyalty program offered by The Loyalty Group, a privately held division of Alliance Data Systems of Dallas, Tex., and which is hereby incorporated by reference. Additional information relating to smart card and smart card reader payment technology is disclosed in Ser. No. 60/232,040, filed on Sep. 12, 2000, and U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,742,845; 5,898,838 and 5,905,908, owned by Datascape; all of which are hereby incorporated by reference. Information on point-of-sale systems and the exploitation of point-of-sale data is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,832,457, issued on Nov. 3, 1998 to O'Brien et al., which is hereby incorporated by reference.
Portions of each of the above-described programs may be used to induce customer loyalty to particular merchants or service providers who directly provide goods or services to the consumer. In other words, these prior art frequency awards programs provide a means for retail businesses, financial institutions, and others in direct contact with the customers they service to provide incentives to their customers to encourage repeat and/or volume business. However, these programs do not sufficiently address the similar needs of businesses that are further up in the distribution chain (such as manufacturers) to promote volume purchases by customers based upon, for example, brand loyalty independent of the retail source for the purchase. Additionally, the prior art programs do not provide a means for monitoring, tracking, and/or analyzing consumer and product data across distribution channels for a particular manufacturer and/or the variety of goods which that manufacturer places into the stream of commerce for ultimate sale to consumers by a retailer.
Generally, before a product arrives at a retail establishment for sale to a consumer, the product travels through a distribution chain which originates with the manufacturer. The manufacturer typically sells its products to a wholesaler who in turn sells those products to various retailers. Most modern retailers implement some form of computerization or electronic technology in their day-to-day operations. This technology typically consists of using point-of-sale (POS) systems for automating checkout procedures, assisting sales personnel, and the like. POS systems generally include one or more automated check-out terminals which are capable of inputting or sensing and interpreting a symbol or other indicia related to the product, such as a Universal Product Code (UPC), generally comprising a machine-readable bar code coupled with a human-readable UPC number, that is printed on a label or tag which is placed on each item of merchandise to be purchased. The manufacturer may assign and mark each product that it sells with a UPC. Conventionally, once the product reaches the retailer, the retailer further identifies each product with a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) number or code as well as other information for identifying a specific item or style of merchandise. The retailer's SKU number may be either an entirely different number used to identify each product (e.g., by style) or a modified version of the manufacturer's UPC number, derived, perhaps, by adding a SKU number to the UPC number for example.
A POS terminal, a kiosk terminal, or a sales person's hand-held terminal might be coupled to a store computer system, such as a network server or some other store platform host, which is able to recognize and process UPC and/or SKU information which has been manually keyed-in or sensed and interpreted by a device, such as a barcode reader, coupled to the terminal. The computer system typically includes a database which stores information relating to the retailer's product inventory, such as stocked merchandise, a UPC and/or SKU number for each item of merchandise, and various types of merchandise identification information, such as price, inventory, style, color, size, etc., which is associated with each UPC and/or SKU number. When a customer purchases an item of merchandise, store personnel frequently use an automated terminal to read the barcode markings which are attached to the item. A computer interprets the UPC and/or SKU number comprised by the barcode, accesses the database to determine the price for each item, and maintains a running total of the total transaction price.
One problem that results from the independent identification schemes of the manufacturer and the retailers is that there is no way for the manufacturer to track the quantity of any particular product that each retailer sold. For example, even if a manufacturer obtains all of the SKU numbers representing items purchased from Retailer 1 and Retailer 2 by consumers, the manufacturer has no means for determining which SKU number corresponds to the manufacturer's UPC, since the UPCs and SKU numbers of the various retailers are not tracked and matched.
Another problem specifically relates to prior art incentive or loyalty programs, wherein program participants are encouraged to purchase products and/or services from sponsoring merchants. While such loyalty programs enable participants to earn rewards based on purchases made from a designated merchant, they lack the ability to reward participants at various levels of the product distribution chain.
In view of the foregoing, a need exists for an incentive or loyalty program which overcomes the shortcomings of the prior art. Thus, there is a need for a system and method which provides a universal customer incentive program that networks various levels of the product distribution chain, such as manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers, to provide incentives to consumers to purchase products not only from a particular merchant or group of merchants but also from particular manufacturers, regardless of the specific merchant who sells the manufacturer's products to the consumer. Additionally, a need exists for a system and method for gathering data which associates particular consumer purchasing behaviors and specific products or product criteria across a manufacturer's distribution channels.
The present invention provides a system for implementing a loyalty program on a network-wide level. The system associates merchant, UPC, and SKU data on a network level to reward consumers and/or to analyze the data for a variety of business purposes, such as market segmentation analyses and/or analyses relating to consumer spending behaviors or patterns, for example. In accordance with one aspect of the invention, the association of merchant, UPC, and SKU data by the system facilitates implementation of an incentive or loyalty program by providing universal rewards currency. This universal rewards currency may be “spent” by participants who have earned rewards and accepted by the other participants in the multi-tiered network created by the system.
The multi-tiered network may comprise any number of participants, including consumers, retailers (and any of their employees), manufacturers, third-party providers, and the like. In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the association of merchant, UPC, and SKU data by the system facilitates data analysis on a network level based upon several factors, including a consumer ID, consumer profile, retailer ID, merchant classification code, merchant consortium code, region code, SKU number, UPC, manufacturer ID, and/or the like. The system may receive, filter, and compile any of the above data across multiple entities for the purpose of issuing rewards and performing data analysis, such as analyses which may be employed in strategic planning and marketing for example.
In one embodiment, the invention provides a filtering module to process purchase transaction data received from a retailer POS. Information relating to the merchant is stored and/or received at a rewards server and may include, for example, a retailer identifier, a merchant classification code, merchant consortium code, merchant location code, and the like. Merchant information is used to filter purchase transactions by determining whether the purchase transaction qualifies an initiating purchaser for a reward. Rewards may be determined and calculated at any number of levels. Moreover, this filtering process may determine when a purchase transaction should be subject to data analysis on a network level.
More particularly, the merchant POS transmits purchase data from a merchant to a host, wherein the purchase data includes retailer data, transaction data and a retailer item identifier, and wherein the retailer item identifier enables the host to determine a manufacturer item identifier. The merchant POS then receives, from the host, a determination that the merchant is a qualifying merchant when the purchase data corresponds to the loyalty program data. The merchant POS then causes the host to issue loyalty awards based on the manufacturer item identifier and the loyalty program data.
A more complete understanding of the invention may be derived by referring to the detailed description and claims when considered in connection with the Figures, wherein like reference numbers refer to similar elements throughout the Figures, and:
The following disclosure presents and describes various exemplary embodiments in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, and it should be understood that other embodiments may be realized without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Thus, the following detailed description is presented for purposes of illustration only, and not of limitation, and the scope of the invention is defined solely by the appended claims.
The present invention may be described herein in terms of functional block components and various processing steps. It should be appreciated that such functional blocks may be realized by any number of hardware and/or software components configured to perform the specified functions. For example, the present invention may employ various integrated circuit components, e.g., memory elements, processing elements, logic elements, look-up tables, and the like, which may carry out a variety of functions under the control of one or more microprocessors or other control devices. Similarly, the software elements of the present invention may be implemented with any programming or scripting language such as C, C++, Java, COBOL, assembler, PERL, or the like, with the various algorithms being implemented with any combination of data structures, objects, processes, routines, or other programming elements. Further, it should be noted that the present invention may employ any number of conventional techniques for data transmission, signaling, data processing, network control, and the like. For a basic introduction to cryptography, please review a text written by Bruce Schneider which is entitled “Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, And Source Code In C,” published by John Wiley & Sons (second edition, 1996), which is hereby incorporated by reference.
It should be appreciated that the particular implementations shown and described herein are illustrative of the invention and its best mode and are not intended to otherwise limit the scope of the present invention in any way. Furthermore, the connecting lines shown in the various figures contained herein are intended to represent exemplary functional relationships and/or physical couplings between the various elements. It should be noted that many alternative or additional functional relationships or physical connections may be present in a practical incentive system implemented in accordance with the invention.
Communication between participants in the system of the present invention is accomplished through any suitable communication means, such as, for example, a telephone network, public switch telephone network, intranet, Internet, extranet, WAN, LAN, point of interaction device (e.g., point of sale device, personal digital assistant, cellular phone, kiosk terminal, automated teller machine (ATM), etc.), online communications, off-line communications, wireless communications, satellite communications, and/or the like. One skilled in the art will also appreciate that, for security reasons, any databases, systems, or components of the present invention may consist of any combination of databases or components at a single location or at multiple locations, wherein each database or system includes any of various suitable security features, such as firewalls, access codes, encryption, de-encryption, compression, decompression, and/or the like.
It further will be appreciated that users may interact with the system via any input device such as a keyboard, mouse, kiosk, personal digital assistant, handheld computer (e.g., Palm Pilot®), cellular phone, and/or the like. Similarly, the invention could be used in conjunction with any type of personal computer, network computer, workstation, minicomputer, mainframe, or the like, running any operating system, such as any version of Windows, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows 98, Windows 95, MacOS, OS/2, BeOS, Linux, UNIX, or the like. Moreover, although the invention may be described herein as being implemented with TCP/IP communications protocols, it will be readily understood that the invention could also be implemented using IPX, Appletalk, IP-6, NetBIOS, OSI, or any number of existing or future protocols. Moreover, the system contemplates the use, sale, or distribution of any goods, services, or information over any network having similar functionality described herein.
Each participant or user of the system of the present invention, including purchasers, retailers, manufacturers, and a third-party providers, may be equipped with a suitable computing system to facilitate online communications and transactions with any other participant. For example, some or all participants may have access to a computing unit in the form of a personal computer, although other types of computing units may be used, including laptops, notebooks, handheld computers, set-top boxes, kiosk terminals, and the like. Additionally, other participants may have computing systems which may be implemented in the form of a computer-server, a PC server, a networked set of computers, or any other suitable implementations which are known in the art or may hereafter be devised.
The computing systems may be connected with each other via a data communications network as described more fully above. For example, the network may be a public network, which is assumed to be insecure and open to eavesdroppers. In one embodiment, the network is embodied as the Internet. In this context, the computers may or may not be connected to the Internet at all times. For instance, the consumer's computer may employ a modem to occasionally connect to the Internet, whereas the retailer computing system, the manufacturer computing system, and the central rewards mechanism might maintain a permanent connection to the Internet. It is noted that the network may be implemented as other types of networks, such as an interactive television (ITV) network.
The retailer's computer system may also be interconnected to a third-party provider via a second network, referred to as a payment network. The payment network represents existing proprietary networks that presently accommodate transactions for credit cards, debit cards, and other types of financial instruments or banking cards. The payment network is a closed network that is assumed to be secure from eavesdroppers. Examples of the payment network include the American Express®, VisaNet®, and the Veriphone® networks.
As will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art, the present invention may be embodied as a method, a data processing system, a device for data processing, and/or a computer program product. Accordingly, aspects of the present invention may take the form of an entirely software embodiment, an entirely hardware embodiment, or an embodiment combining aspects of both software and hardware. Furthermore, the present invention may take the form of a computer program product on a computer-readable storage medium having computer-readable program-code means embodied in the storage medium. Any suitable computer-readable storage medium may be utilized, including hard disks, CD-ROM, optical storage devices, magnetic storage devices, and/or the like.
The present invention is described below with reference to block diagrams and flowchart illustrations of methods, apparatus (e.g., systems), and computer program products according to various aspects of the invention. It will be understood that each functional block of the block diagrams and the flowchart illustrations, and combinations of functional blocks in the block diagrams and flowchart illustrations, respectively, can be implemented by computer program instructions. These computer program instructions may be loaded onto a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, or other programmable data processing apparatus to produce a machine, such that the instructions which execute on the computer or other programmable data processing apparatus create means for implementing the functions specified in the flowchart block or blocks.
These computer program instructions may also be stored in a computer-readable memory that can direct a computer or other programmable data processing apparatus to function in a particular manner, such that the instructions stored in the computer-readable memory produce an article of manufacture including instruction means which implement the function specified in the flowchart block or blocks. The computer program instructions may also be loaded onto a computer or other programmable data processing apparatus to cause a series of operational steps to be performed on the computer or other programmable apparatus to produce a computer-implemented process such that the instructions which execute on the computer or other programmable apparatus provide steps for implementing the functions specified in the flowchart block or blocks.
Accordingly, functional blocks of the block diagrams and flowchart illustrations support combinations of means for performing the specified functions, combinations of steps for performing the specified functions, and program instruction means for performing the specified functions. It will also be understood that each functional block of the block diagrams and flowchart illustrations, and combinations of functional blocks in the block diagrams and flowchart illustrations, can be implemented by either special purpose, hardware-based computer systems which perform the specified functions or steps, or suitable combinations of special purpose hardware and computer instructions.
As used herein, the terms “user” and “participant” shall interchangeably refer to any person, entity, charitable organization, machine, hardware, software, or business who accesses and uses the system of the invention, including consumers, retailers, manufacturers, and third-party providers. Participants in the system may interact with one another either online or off-line. As used herein, the term “online” refers to interactive communications that takes place between participants who are remotely located from one another, including communication through any of the networks or communications means described above or the like.
The term “manufacturer” shall include any person, entity, charitable organization, machine, software, hardware, and/or the like that manufactures, distributes, or originates a product or service which may ultimately be offered to a consumer directly or indirectly through a retailer. The term “manufacturer” may also include any party that generates and/or provides manufacturer item identifiers. The term “retailer” shall include any person, entity, charitable organization, machine, software, hardware, and/or the like that that offers a product or service to a consumer. As used herein, the term “retailer” is used interchangeably with the term “merchant”. Moreover, in this context, a retailer or merchant may offer or sell, either online or offline, products and/or services made or supplied by at least one manufacturer. As used herein, the phrases “network level” and “network-wide level” shall refer to a system that includes more than one retailer and at least one manufacturer.
As used herein, the terms “purchaser”, “customer”, “consumer”, “participant”, and “end-user” may be used interchangeably with each other, and each shall mean any person, entity, charitable organization, or business which uses a consumer ID to participate in the present system. A “consumer ID”, as used herein, includes any device, code, or other identifier suitably configured to allow the consumer to interact or communicate with the system, such as, for example, a rewards card, charge card, credit card, debit card, prepaid card, telephone card, smart card, magnetic stripe card, bar code card, authorization/access code, personal identification number (PIN), Internet code, other identification code, and/or the like. Additionally, a “consumer ID” may comprise any form of electronic, magnetic, and/or optical device capable of transmitting or downloading data from itself to a second device which is capable of interacting and communicating with such forms of consumer I.D.
A consumer may register to participate in the present system by any methods known and practiced in the art. For example, a consumer may be enrolled automatically (e.g. if the consumer holds an existing account with the system administrator), over the phone, at the point of sale through a paper application or verbal interview, through the mail, or through instant enrollment online. Consumer enrollment data may comprise any of the following: name; address; date of birth; social security number; email address; gender; the names of any household members; a credit card number for charging any fees that may be associated with participation in the system, survey data; interests, educational level, and/or any preferred brand names. Upon enrollment, the consumer receives a consumer ID. The consumer ID may be associated with a household account which specifies the consumer as a primary member and permits the identification of supplementary members associated with the consumer's household who may also earn reward points for the consumer.
A “consumer profile”, as used herein, shall refer to any data used to characterize a consumer and/or the behavior of a consumer. In the context of a commercial transaction, “a consumer profile” shall be understood to include, for example, the time and date of a particular purchase, the frequency of purchases, the volume/quantity of purchases, the transaction size (price), and/or the like. Additionally, in other transactional contexts, the term “consumer profile” shall also be understood to include non-purchase behaviors of a consumer, such as consumer enrollment data, visiting a Web site, referrals of prospective participants in the system, completion of a survey or other information gathering instrument, and/or the like. For instance, a participating online consumer may earn rewards points automatically through a triggering event, such as visiting a Web site, completing an online survey, or clicking on a banner advertisement for example. Offline, a participating consumer may earn rewards points by completing a task or showing their consumer ID to the cashier and triggering the cashier to provide a “behavior” ID which may be input (e.g., by scanning a bar code on a paper survey for example) into the POS terminal. Further, any aspects of the consumer profile may be used in the context of data analysis.
A “third-party provider” may comprise any additional provider of goods and/or services to a consumer. Specifically, a “third-party provider” includes any party other than the particular manufacturer and retailer who is involved in a transaction with a consumer. A third-party provider may include, for example, a financial institution, such as a bank or an issuer of a financial instrument (such as a credit card or a debit card). A third-party provider may also include a provider of goods and services which are offered as awards to consumers in exchange for a requisite number of reward points.
Though the invention may generically be described with reference to a series of transactions which transfer a good or service from an originating party to an intermediary party and a subsequent transaction which transfers the good or service from the intermediary party to an end-user of that good or service, for convenience and purposes of brevity and consistency, the present disclosure generally refers to the originating party as a manufacturer, the intermediary party as a retailer, the end-user as a consumer, and a good or service as a product or item. However, it will be recognized by those of ordinary skill in the art that the retailer need not provide a product or item to a consumer in exchange for monetary currency. While this often may be the case, the present disclosure is not so limited and includes transactions which may be gratuitous in nature, whereby the retailer transfers a product or item to a consumer without the consumer providing any currency or other value in exchange. It is further noted that additional participants, referred to as third-party providers, may be involved in some phases of the transaction, though these participants are not shown. Exemplary third-party providers may include financial institutions, such as banks, credit card companies, card sponsoring companies, or issuers of credit who may be under contract with financial institutions. It will be appreciated that any number of consumers, retailers, manufacturers, third-party providers, and the like may participate in the system of the present invention.
As used herein, the term “UPC” and the phrase “manufacturer item identifier” shall refer to any symbol or indicia which provides information and, in an exemplary embodiment, shall refer to any number, code, or identifier assigned by a manufacturer and associated with an item, including any type of goods and/or services, ultimately offered to a consumer or other end-user. Colloquially, a UPC is sometimes referred to as a SKU number. However, as used herein, the term “SKU” and the phrase “retailer item identifier” shall refer to any symbol or indicia which provides additional information and, in an exemplary embodiment, shall refer to any number, code, or identifier assigned by a retailer and associated with an item, including any type of goods and/or services, offered to a consumer or other end-user.
“Purchase data”, as used herein, comprises data relating to the sale, lease, rent, offer or other transaction involving any item (e.g., goods and/or services) to a consumer or other end-user. Purchase data may include any of the following exemplary data or information: an item purchased, an item price, a number of items purchased, a total transaction price, loyalty points used, loyalty points earned, loyalty points balance, discounts, a payment method, a date, a store identifier, an employee identifier, a retailer item identifier, a loyalty identifier, and/or the like.
“Retailer ID” or “merchant ID” as used herein, comprises any symbol, indicia, code, number, or other identifier that may be associated with a retailer of any type of items offered to a consumer or other end-user. A retailer ID may also include or be associated with a “store ID”, which designates the location of a particular store. For example, a retailer ID may directly, or through an associated store ID, identify a store by name, geographic location, mapping coordinates, district, postal code, street address, and any combination thereof. The store ID may be used to facilitate geographic or regional filtering for the purpose of issuing and/or redeeming of loyalty points or any other incentive. The store ID may be used to identify the location of a retailer or may itself be associated with another identifier such as a regional ID, for example. A store ID, or the like, may be used by the disclosed filtering module to determine if a retailer is located within defined boundaries for the purpose of issuing loyalty points to the retailer, manufacturer or the retailer's customers. In another embodiment, a retailer ID further includes or is associated with a merchant classification code, a merchant consortium code, a merchant location code, a region identifier, and the like.
A retailer ID may be associated with a “merchant classification code”, which defines a classification that serves as a general descriptor of the merchant type. A merchant classification code may serve to group retailers that share a common business line and/or sell common products or services. For example, a computer retailer may have a classification code identifying the retailer as an “electronics” merchant. A merchant classification code may be used by the disclosed filtering module to qualify a retailer, manufacturer and/or customer for rewards based on a purchase from a merchant of a defined type. According to one embodiment, the merchant classification code further includes or is associated with a retailer ID, a merchant consortium code, a region identifier, and the like.
Further, a retailer may be identified according to an affiliation with other merchants. A “merchant consortium code” identifies any group of retailers that are affiliated through agreement, common ownership, common retailer space, and the like. Further, a merchant consortium may comprise a group of retailers that identify and/or relate to one another in some manner (e.g., geography, common or related promotional efforts, common ownership, selling common goods and/or services, etc.). Such consortiums may enter into agreements to provide incentives to consumers based on purchase transactions consummated at any one of the retailers of the consortium, such that the consumer's patronage may benefit other members of the consortium either individually or as a whole. An example of a merchant consortium may include a particular shopping mall. According to one embodiment, the merchant consortium code further includes or is associated with a retailer ID, a merchant classification code, a region identifier, and the like.
A “merchant location code” identifies a retailer by a physical geographical location. The merchant location code enables, for example, filtering of retailers based on store location such that a promotion can be implemented with defined physical boundaries. A location code may denote a retailer's latitude and longitude, state, region, city, district, postal code, street address, and the like. According to one embodiment, the merchant location code further includes or is associated with a retailer ID, a merchant classification code, a merchant consortium code, and the like.
A “manufacturer ID” comprises any symbol, indicia, code, number, or other identifier that may be associated with a manufacturer of any type of goods and/or services ultimately offered to a consumer or other end-user.
An “award” or “reward” may comprise any quantity of products, services, coupons, gift certificates, rebates, reward points, bonus points, credits or debits to a financial instrument, any combination of these, and/or the like. “Data analysis”, as used herein, shall be understood to comprise quantitative and qualitative research, statistical modeling, regression analyses, market segmentation analyses, econometrics, and/or the like. Such analyses may be used to predict consumer behaviors and/or correlate consumer profiles, retailer data, manufacturer data, and/or product or service data.
One skilled in the art will appreciate that any earning or using of loyalty points, as discussed herein, may apply to (or involve) the retailer, manufacturer, customers, shippers, or any other entity or person involved in, or associated with, the distribution channel. Moreover, a customer, client, participant or consumer, as used herein, may also include the retailer, manufacturer, consortium or any other entity or person described herein.
According to one embodiment of the invention, a central rewards mechanism includes a filter component for determining whether a POS transaction meets predefined requirements. The filter module filters transactions at various levels based on, for example, merchant identifier, merchant classification code, merchant consortium identifier, and region identifier. While described extensively herein, the filter component processes transaction data to determine when a POS transaction qualifies a loyalty program participant to be awarded a number of loyalty points.
Practitioners will appreciate that the disclosed filtering processes may be applied to loyalty point redemption as well. For example, the filter module may receive a request from a retailer POS device when a card holder intends to apply a portion of a loyalty account balance toward a purchase. Based on the filtering of the request, the system may allow or decline the transaction.
The filter module receives loyalty program data from a rewards server in, for example, real-time or batch mode. The filter module further receives transaction data from a POS terminal by way of a payment gateway. The filter module compares the transaction data to the loyalty program data to determine if a correlation exists between one or more elements of each data set. Based on whether or not a correlation exists, the filter module may use the two data sets to calculate a reward, forward the transaction data to a processor for SKU/UPC matching, or both.
The system of the present invention associates or maps merchant data, manufacturer UPC data, and retailer SKU data on a network level to reward consumers and/or to analyze the data for a variety of business purposes, such as market segmentation analyses and/or analyses relating to consumer spending behaviors or patterns for example. Rather than simply capturing transactions at a Record of Charge (ROC) level, that is, recording consumer purchases in a general fashion by designating purchase categories (such as “clothing”, “electronics”, or “hardware” for example), the system identifies the merchant, particular item purchased (such as “jeans”, “stereo”, or “hammer” for example), as well as its corresponding manufacturer. By filtering transaction data from the retailer POS, the system links or associates the merchant to the retailer SKU. The system further links or associated the retailer SKU to a manufacturer UPC to permit the standardization of merchants, goods, and/or services codes at the network level. This standardization not only permits a record of both the specific item purchased and its manufacturer, regardless of the particular retailer involved in the transaction, but it permits the mapping of multiple consumers, multiple goods and/or services, multiple retailers, and/or multiple manufacturers to advantageously cross-market goods and services to consumers.
In accordance with one aspect of the invention, the association of merchant data, SKU data, and UPC data by the system facilitates implementation of an incentive or loyalty program by providing universal rewards currency which may be “spent” by participants who have earned rewards and accepted by the other participants in the multi-tiered network created by the system. For example, the system may issue universal rewards currency based on the identity of the merchant, the type of merchant, a group of merchants, the location of the merchant, and the like. Earned universal rewards currency may likewise be limited to a particular merchant, merchant type, group of merchants, and merchant location. Thus, a network is defined wherein universal rewards currency may be issued and redeemed.
The network may comprise any number of participants, including consumers, retailers (and any of their employees), manufacturers, third-party providers, and the like. Each of these categories of participants may be considered a tier in the network, and each participant within the various tiers may design and implement an independent rewards scheme within the context of the universal environment provided by the system. For example, Manufacturer 1 may produce and assign a UPC to Item X. Item X may subsequently be offered for sale by both Retailer 1 and Retailer 2. Retailer 1 and Retailer 2 may then each assign an independent SKU number to Item X to facilitate their own tracking, inventory, and pricing schemes. A consumer may then purchase Item X from both Retailer 1 and Retailer 2. Moreover, while Retailer 1 and Retailer 2 may each assign a separate SKU number to Item X, the filter module may map the two SKU numbers when a link or association is established, (e.g., merchant classification code, merchant consortium code, location code, etc.) between Retailer 1 and Retailer 2.
Since the system is capable of processing, associating, and quantifying a variety of data, including consumer data, employee data, retailer data, manufacturer data, SKU number data corresponding to Item X, and UPC data assigned by Manufacturer 1, for example, this data can then be used by the manufacturer, the retailer, the system administrator, and/or a third-party provider to provide rewards to consumers, employees, retailers, etc. For example, a manufacturer may provide frequency-based incentives, such as every 10th purchase of a particular item will be discounted by 50%, for example, independent of and/or in addition to any incentives offered by the specific retailer involved in the transaction. Additionally, the manufacturer may provide sales incentives to the employees of retailer's independent of and/or in addition to any employee incentive programs that the retailers may choose to implement.
Since rewards, which may be in the form of rewards points, may be earned across the various tiers in the network, rewards may also be used or spent across the various tiers in the network. Thus, any rewards points that an employee, for example, may earn by promoting a particular manufacturer's line of products, may be “spent” by that employee on goods or services provided by any participant in the network, not merely at the retailer who employs that employee. Likewise, any rewards points earned by a consumer may be spent on goods or services offered by any participant in the network.
In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the association of merchant data, UPC data, and SKU data by the system facilitates data analysis on a network level based upon several factors, including any of the following: consumer ID, consumer profile, retailer ID, merchant classification code, merchant consortium code, location code, SKU number, UPC, manufacturer ID, and/or the like. The system may compile any of the above data across multiple participants for the purpose of data analysis, such as analyses which may be employed in strategic planning and marketing for example. The system of the invention may be used to compile, analyze, and report data in a manner which would inform any or all network participants that, for example, a specific consumer (1) has made multiple purchases of particular manufacturers'products; (2) has spent Q dollars over a certain time period (3) at specific multiple retailers; and (4) of the purchases made, R dollars went towards the purchase of Product 1, S dollars went towards the purchase of Product 2, and T dollars went towards the purchase of Service 1. Moreover, the system may be used to compile, analyze, and report data that enable a retailer, a manufacturer, and/or a third-party provider to create a variety of targeted marketing promotions, such as, for example, (1) marketing Product 1 offered by Manufacturer 1 to consumers who purchase Product 2 offered by Manufacturer 2; (2) marketing Product 1 offered by Manufacturer 1 and sold by Retailer X to consumers who purchase Product 2 offered by Manufacturer 2 at Retailer Y; (3) marketing Product 1 offered by Manufacturer 1 and sold by Retailer X to consumers who purchase Product 2 offered by Manufacturer 2 at Retailer Y five times a year. It will be appreciated that these are but a few of the many possible applications for data gathered and generated by the system of the present invention.
In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, the system administrator may allocate rewards points to participants in the system. In one embodiment, participating retailers and/or manufacturers may purchase points from the system administrator and the points are then allocated to an account associated with the retailer and/or manufacturer. In an alternate embodiment, the system administrator may give or donate points to participating retailers and/or manufacturers. The system administrator maintains an account with each of the participating retailers and manufacturers and tracks available point balances and/or balances owing on a rolling basis. The points purchased by the retailers and/or manufacturers may then be earned by and issued to consumers in a manner that is predetermined by the retailer and/or manufacturer involved in the transaction with the consumer. For example, Retailer 1 may purchase 10,000 points from the system administrator and then offer consumers 1 point for every $10 dollars spent in Retailer 1's store or, perhaps, some number of points for every fifth transaction in the store. Moreover, Manufacturer 1, who produces the product offered by Retailer 1, may also purchase points from the system administrator. Thus, when a consumer purchases Manufacturer 1's product at Retailer 1, Manufacturer 1 may issue some number of points to the consumer. The issuance of points, either by retailers or manufacturers, may be based upon any selected criteria, including a points-for-dollars ratio, a defined quantity of points per item or per transaction, some combination of these, and/or the like.
The system administrator maintains an account for each participating consumer and apprises the consumer of the point totals and account activity. The consumer may review the total number of points in the account either online or off-line, such as through a periodic statement sent by the system administrator or through the use of a communications network, such as the Internet, for example. Points in the consumer's account are accumulated across the multiple retailers and/or manufacturers participating in the system. Thus, points earned by a consumer based upon transactions with different retailers and/or manufacturers are combined, resulting in a rapid accrual of points. The system administrator offers a catalog of products and services, which may be either online or off-line, from which consumers may select rewards in exchange for accrued points. In this manner, consumers advantageously earn points based upon their everyday purchases of products and services, these points are accrued across retailers and/or manufacturers, and point redemption takes place through a single, universal catalog of rewards.
In accordance with the present invention,
The central rewards mechanism 102 manages the incentive or loyalty program of the system 100. In an exemplary embodiment, central rewards mechanism 102 receives, processes, and stores manufacturer data, such as information regarding products and/or services and UPC data, transmitted by manufacturers 106 who have enrolled in the system 100. Central rewards mechanism further stores information relating to participating retailers. Such information may include, for example, SKU numbers, retailer ID, merchant classification code, merchant consortium code, location code, and the like. Manufacturers 106 and merchants 104 may transmit data to central rewards mechanism 102 in any form and by any means known in the art, including any of the communications means described above.
The manufacturer data is stored by the central rewards mechanism 102 in database 103. Database 103 may be any type of database, such as relational, hierarchical, object-oriented, and/or the like. Common database products that may be used to implement database 103 include DB2 by IBM (White Plains, N.Y.), any of the database products available from Oracle Corporation (Redwood Shores, Calif.), Microsoft Access by Microsoft Corporation (Redmond, Wash.), or any other database product. Database 103 may be organized in any suitable manner, including as data tables or lookup tables.
The central rewards mechanism 102 may receive and process consumer ID information and purchase data from any of the retailer systems 104. The central rewards mechanism 102 may also associate a particular consumer ID with the purchase data and a corresponding manufacturer item identifier. In one embodiment, a filter module of the central rewards mechanism 102 performs an analysis involving any of the following: a consumer ID, purchase data, a point ratio, a consumer profile, a retailer ID, merchant classification code, merchant consortium code, location code, and a manufacturer ID. The analysis, may be dependent upon an association of the consumer ID, merchant data, purchase data, and the manufacturer item identifier. The analysis may further comprise, for example, a calculation of rewards points and/or other analyses for purposes of market segmentation, determining consumer spending behavior, correlating spending behavior and consumer demographics, and/or the like, as described in greater detail above.
In one exemplary embodiment, the central rewards mechanism 102 stores and/or informs a consumer of the rewards points that have been earned from a particular transaction as well as accumulated over time. The number of rewards points calculated and awarded by the central rewards mechanism 102 for a particular purchase may depend upon a predetermined rewards ratio. The rewards ratio may be determined by the retailer, the system administrator, the manufacturer of the purchased item, and/or any other suitable third-party. For example, if a participating consumer buys a product from a retailer for $100 and if the retailer rewards ratio is one reward point for each dollar of the purchase price (i.e., one-for-one), once the consumer's consumer ID is identified by the system, the consumer is credited with a suitable number of rewards points from the retailer, which, in this case, would be 100 points. In addition, the retailer may be linked to a consortium of merchants through a merchant consortium code. Thus, if the consortium agrees to issue reward points based on a purchase from a consortium member, then the consortium may select a point ratio that is different than the retailer's selected ratio. Further, if the manufacturer also chooses to issue rewards points for the item purchased, the manufacturer may select a point ratio that is different from the retailer's and/or the consortium's selected ratio. In the illustrated example, if the manufacturer's selected point ratio is two-for-one, then the consumer will be awarded an additional 200 points from the manufacturer for this single $100 purchase. If the consortium's point ratio is one half-for-one, then the consumer will be awarded an additional 50 points for the $100 purchase. Therefore, in all, the consumer would have earned a total of 350 points for the single $100 purchase.
The system may also provide a line of credit to advance loyalty points to any entity discussed herein, as set forth in, for example, U.S. Ser. No.: 11/548,203, filed on Oct. 10, 2006 and entitled “A System And Method For Issuing And Using A Loyalty Point Advance” and U.S. Ser. No. 09/718,192, filed on Nov. 21, 2000 and entitled “System And Method For The Real-Time Transfer Of Loyalty Points Between Accounts”, which is hereby incorporated by reference.
In the manner described by way of example above, the system of the invention may provide “earn accelerators” through which consumers may accumulate rewards points at comparatively rapid rate. In other words, a single purchase may generate rewards points for a consumer from any or all of a retailer, merchant consortium, manufacturer, and/or any other third-party provider. The generated rewards points may be used as rewards currency by the consumer throughout the network established by the system of the invention.
In an exemplary embodiment, retailer system 104 comprises a retailer terminal 108 and a retailer processor 110 in communication with database 111. Retailer terminal 108 comprises any device capable of identifying a consumer ID. Exemplary devices for identifying a consumer ID may include a conventional card reader which recognizes a magnetic stripe or bar code associated with a consumer ID, a biometric device, a smart card reader which recognizes information stored on a microchip integrated with a consumer ID, and any device capable of receiving or uploading consumer ID data transmitted electronically, magnetically, optically, and/or the like. In one embodiment, retailer terminal 108 and retailer processor 110 are co-located at a retail store. In another embodiment, retail terminal 108 and retailer processor 110 are remote from each other.
In an exemplary embodiment, as illustrated in
In accordance with the exemplary embodiments illustrated in
Regardless of the location of retailer regional processor 114, retailer regional processor 114 receives and processes similar information from each of the retailer processors 110 associated with each of the retail stores owned by the same retailer. Whether the system 100 comprises a retailer regional processor 114 or a retailer national processor may be a function of the number of stores maintained by a particular retailer. That is, a larger retailer who has numerous stores throughout the country, for example, may choose to have a plurality of regional processors, while a smaller retailer with a few stores scattered across the country may be better served by a single, national processor. In exemplary embodiments, the retailer regional processors 114 and/or national processors communicate with a suitable database 115 or other storage device which is configured to store and maintain purchase data and any other suitable retailer information. In another exemplary embodiment, retailer regional processor 114 may receive, process, and store manufacturer data, such as information regarding products and/or services and UPC data, from manufacturers 106 who have enrolled in the system 100. The manufacturer data may be stored in any suitable form, including data tables or lookup tables.
With momentary reference to
In an exemplary embodiment, rewards terminal 116 operates in real-time. In this context, “real-time” means that reward points are immediately, or nearly immediately, updated at the time purchases are made and are therefore immediately redeemable by the consumer at the a point of sale. Thus, for example, a consumer may be informed by rewards terminal 116 at the point of sale that the item being purchased by the consumer may be purchased using the consumer's accumulated reward points, including points accumulated on a network level. Points accumulated on a network level enable consumers to accumulate points more rapidly than would be possible if only a single retailer or group of retailers were issuing the points. In one embodiment, rewards terminal 116 may update a consumer's rewards points in real-time and, in response to the consumer's particular points total, issue a coupon, a gift certificate, and/or additional bonus points to the consumer.
In another exemplary embodiment, the system may operate in batch mode, wherein points totals are calculated, stored, and periodically updated for access by the retailer terminal 108, including POS terminal 112 and/or rewards terminal 116. Thus in this embodiment, the consumer may be notified of available points sometime after a purchase, or a suggestive sale may take place after a purchase. The total point count or suggestive sale may take into account points generated and accumulated as the result of network-wide purchases.
In various alternate embodiments of the invention, retailer terminal 108 may include a rewards terminal 116 but not a POS terminal 112; a POS terminal 112 but not a rewards terminal 116; or a POS terminal 112 in communication with a rewards terminal 116. In alternate embodiments, where terminal 108 includes a POS terminal 112 and a rewards terminal 116, the two terminals 112 and 116 may be variously implemented as separate terminals, integrated terminals, or software within a device. In another embodiment, where terminal 108 comprises a rewards terminal 116 but not a POS terminal 112, terminal 108 may be a kiosk terminal located within a retail store or some other remote terminal which is capable of recognizing a consumer ID and communicating with the system 100. A consumer may use independent rewards terminal 116 to do, for example, any of the following: view accumulated reward points totals; view potential awards which the consumer may obtain in exchange for various numbers of points; select an award; redeem rewards points for a selected award; request and/or receive a reward points advisory statement; and/or view a directory of participating retailers, manufacturers, and third-party providers.
In another exemplary embodiment, system 100 further comprises a consumer terminal 118. Consumer terminal 118 is any remote terminal through which a consumer may access other aspects of the system 100. Consumer terminal 118 may comprise any of the input devices, computing units, or computing systems described above. Further, consumer terminal 118 communicates with the system 100 -through any of the communications networks described above. In one embodiment, consumer terminal 118 permits a consumer to engage multiple facets of the system 100 in an interactive online communications environment. The interactive online environment made available through consumer terminal 118 is an extension of the network-level incentive award program and is implemented in conjunction with other aspects of the system 100. In this context, a consumer may uses consumer terminal 118 for a variety of purposes. In one embodiment, consumer terminal 118 may be used to communicate with and receive information from the central rewards mechanism 102. For example, a consumer may use consumer terminal 118 to do any of the following: enroll in the system; receive statements or reports regarding accumulated reward points totals; receive bonus details; view potential awards which the consumer may obtain in exchange for various numbers of points; select an award; receive redemption information; view points adjustments; redeem rewards points for a selected award; request and/or receive a reward points advisory statement; receive information regarding where and how points were earned and/or how points were redeemed; receive information regarding expiration dates for points earned; receive information relating to any applicable fees; receive information regarding marketing promotions; and/or view a directory of participating retailers, manufacturers, and/or third-party providers.
In another embodiment, consumer terminal 118 may be used to interact with and/or make purchases and generate rewards points from participating online retailers, as illustrated by the various phantom lines in
In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, the system 100 may comprise a rewards server 120 in communication with a database 121, as illustrated in
In an exemplary embodiment, rewards server 120 receives, processes, and stores both manufacturer data and retailer data. Manufacturer data may include descriptions of products and/or services and UPC data transmitted from manufacturers 106 who have enrolled in the system 100. The manufacturer data may be stored in any suitable form, including data tables or lookup tables. Retailer data may include descriptions of products and/or services, merchant classification codes, merchant consortium codes, location codes, and SKU data transmitted from retailers 104 who have enrolled in the system 100. The retailer data may be stored in any suitable form including, for example, data tables or lookup tables where it may be subsequently used for transaction filtering processes as will be described in greater detail in relation to
In an exemplary embodiment, the rewards server 120 performs a plurality of functions that might otherwise be performed by the central rewards mechanism 102. For example, since rewards calculations require significant processing and memory resources, performance of calculations processing by the rewards server 120 at the regional level lessens the processing load on the central rewards mechanism 102, thereby increasing the efficiency of the central rewards mechanism 102. In an exemplary embodiment, each retailer's region, which comprises a plurality of that retailer's stores or outlets, accesses a rewards server 120 which acts as an intermediary between the retailer regional processor 114 and the central rewards mechanism 102. This configuration relieves the processing, power, memory, and other requirements of the central rewards mechanism 102. Moreover, each retailer is but one of many retailers that may participate in the network level rewards structure. Accordingly, a plurality of rewards servers 120 may be in communication with the central rewards mechanism 102 as well as each of the participating retailer regional processors 114, further alleviating the processing burden and freeing up the resources of the central rewards mechanism 102.
Implementations which include at least one independent rewards server 120 are also advantageous because cost-effective communications links may be used to facilitate communications with the central rewards mechanism 102. Performance by the rewards server 120 of many of the “intelligence functions” of the system 100, permits transmission of only particular forms of purchaser information to the central rewards mechanism 102. In an exemplary embodiment, data sent from the rewards server 120 to the central rewards mechanism 102 may include the consumer ID and the total number of rewards points earned by a consumer in a particular transaction. In another exemplary embodiment, data transmitted by the rewards server 120 to the central rewards mechanism 102 may also include any pre-selected aspect of the consumer profile, any pre-selected aspect of the purchase data, and/or any other pre-selected data associated with a consumer, a retailer, a manufacturer, and/or a third-party provider. Pre-selection of the types of data transmitted by the rewards server 120 to the central rewards mechanism 102 may be conducted by the system administrator, a retailer, a manufacturer, and/or a third-party provider. Thus, data which may be useful for purposes of data analysis but unrelated to the rewards feature, such as the characteristics of the particular item purchased for example, may not need to be transmitted to the central rewards mechanism 102.
Exemplary functions performed by the rewards server 120 may include the association of merchant data, UPC data and SKU data; manipulation of the rewards criteria applicable in particular cases, which may further depend upon the retailer, manufacturer, and/or third-party provider involved in a specific transaction with a consumer; calculation of rewards benefits earned by the consumer; filtration functions for determining which data is transmitted from the rewards server 120 to the central rewards mechanism 102; and/or various types of data analyses, as described above. In an exemplary embodiment, the retailer system 104 houses, maintains, and updates the hardware and/or software of the rewards server 120. In another embodiment, rewards server 120 may be housed, maintained, and updated by the system administrator.
In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, the system 100 permits an open payment system. Since the invention generally provides that consumer participation in the system is based upon a consumer ID, a purchaser may use any of multiple payment vehicles (such as cash, check, charge card, credit card, debit card, MasterCard®, Visa®, and/or the American Express® Card for example) to make purchases at the various retailers and still participate in the system. Thus, in one embodiment, the consumer ID is independent of any particular payment vehicle, such as a credit card for example.
However, alternate embodiments of the invention may be implemented which associate a consumer ID with a particular payment vehicle, such as a consumer's credit card account, charge card account, debit card account, and/or bank account for example. In this embodiment, the retailer conducting the transaction need only participate in the system to the extent that the retailer provides its SKU data to the system 100, such as to the rewards server 120. In other words, when a consumer ID is associated with an instrument (e.g., a credit card) from a third-party provider, the retailer need not provide a rewards terminal or other terminal capable of processing the consumer ID, since the third-party provider may process the consumer ID as part of the payment transaction. Thus, in this embodiment, rewards benefits may be earned by the consumer on a network-wide level without the retailer's direct participation in the rewards feature (notwithstanding the retailer's participation in transmitting SKU data to the system). Moreover, it will be appreciated that a single consumer ID may be associated with multiple third-party payment vehicles, thereby allowing a consumer to generate rewards points regardless of the particular payment vehicle selected for a particular purchase.
With reference to
Lastly, a storage device 420, such as a hard disk drive for example, preferably contains files or records which are accessed by the various software modules, such as enrollment module 412 and authentication module 414. In particular, consumer data 422 comprises information received from a consumer upon registration with the rewards mechanism 402. Consumer rewards 424 comprise data corresponding to each consumer's rewards account. Consumer rewards 424 may include cumulative rewards point totals as well as historical totals and rewards account activity over time. Retailer records 426 comprise information received from the various participating retailers. Manufacturer records 428 comprise information received from the various participating manufacturers. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the storage device 420 and, therefore, consumer data 422, consumer rewards 424, retailer records 426, and manufacturer records 428 may be co-located with the rewards mechanism 402 or may be remotely located with respect to the rewards mechanism 402. If the storage device 420 is remotely located with respect to the rewards mechanism 402, communication between storage device 420 and rewards mechanism 402 may be accomplished by any suitable communication link but is preferably accomplished through a private intranet or extranet.
Enrollment module 412 receives information from consumers, retailers, and/or manufacturers who wish to participate in the system. Enrollment module 412 accesses and stores information in storage device 420. Authentication and/or validation of the identity and status of participants, including any of the other system components, may be performed by the authentication module 414, which preferably has access to the records residing in storage device 420.
With reference to
Lastly, a storage device 524, such as a database as described above for example, preferably contains files or records which are accessed by the various software modules 512, 514, 516, and 518. In particular, manufacturer data 526 comprises information received from a manufacturer, such as descriptions or other information regarding the manufacturer's products and/or services as well as UPC data for example. Retailer data 528 comprises information received from a retailer, such as descriptions or other information regarding the retailer's products and/or services as well as SKU data for example. Consumer data 530 comprises information pertaining to a consumer, including a consumer ID, purchase data, a consumer profile, and/or the like. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the storage device 524 and, therefore, manufacturer data 526, retailer data 528, and consumer data 530 maybe co-located with the rewards server 502 or may be remotely located with respect to the rewards server 502. If the storage device 524 is remotely located with respect to the rewards server 502, communication between storage device 524 and rewards server 502 may be accomplished by any suitable communication link but is preferably accomplished through a private intranet or extranet.
Referring next to
The various transaction files may be consolidated by the retailer processor 110 and then forwarded to the retailer regional processor 114 (step 606) for further back-office and cumulative data analysis performed by retailer 104.
In an exemplary embodiment, the transaction file is transmitted by either of the retailer processor 110 or the retailer regional processor 114 to the rewards server 120 (step 608). Through a filtering process, SKU information for each item included in the transaction file is then matched to or associated with corresponding UPC information which identifies the related manufacturer 106. An exemplary association process is illustrated in the flowchart of
In an exemplary embodiment, database 121 receives and stores manufacturer data, including UPC data, from manufacturer 106 (step 702). Database 121 also receives and stores retailer data, including SKU numbers, from retailer 104 (step 704). In an exemplary implementation, database 121 stores manufacturer data in a separate manufacturer data table for each participating manufacturer 106. Each manufacturer data table may comprise a plurality of fields, such as “UPC” and “product description” for example, and a plurality of records, each of which corresponds to an item offered by the participating manufacturer 106.
In one embodiment, database 121 stores retailer data in a separate retailer data table for each participating retailer 104. Each retailer data table may comprise a plurality of fields, such as “retailer ID”, “merchant classification code”, “merchant consortium code”, “location code”, “SKU”, and “product description” for example, and a plurality of records, each record corresponding to an item offered by a participating retailer 104.
Data from each of the manufacturer and the retailer data tables is then associated (step 706). The association step may be accomplished by a database merge function, for example, using a “key field” in each of the manufacturer and retailer data tables. A “key field” partitions the database according to the high-level class of objects defined by the key field. For example, a “product description” class may be designated as a key field in both the manufacturer data table and the retailer data table, and the two data tables may then be merged on the basis of the “product description” data in the key field. In this embodiment, the data corresponding to the key field in each of the merged data tables is preferably the same. That is, the product descriptions in the manufacturer data table match the product descriptions in the retailer data table. However, manufacturer and retailer data tables having similar, though not identical, data in the key fields may also be merged by using AGREP, for example. Accordingly, the data
The result of the data association step is the creation of a separate data table, such as a UPC/SKU lookup table for example (step 708). Thus, when the rewards server 120 receives the data (e.g., consumer ID and SKU data) captured by the POS terminal (step 710), the rewards server 120 may search the UPC/SKU lookup table for the appropriate SKU number and then match the SKU to the corresponding UPC data (step 712). In an exemplary embodiment, the “SKU” and “UPC” fields in the UPC/SKU data table may be linked by an appropriate pointer. That is, when the rewards server 120 searches the UPC/SKU table and locates the particular SKU that has been captured and transmitted by the POS terminal, the specifically identified SKU data field uses a pointer to direct the rewards server 120 to the UPC data field that corresponds to that SKU number. In an exemplary embodiment, the UPC data field may be linked by one or more additional pointers to other key fields, such as a consumer ID, a retailer ID, a manufacturer ID, and/or a third-party ID. These additional pointers may be used as means for compiling data which may be useful in any of the various data analyses performed by the rewards server 120. In this manner, the association of POS SKU numbers and UPC data may be used to create a context in which standardized, network-wide analyses may be conducted.
In an exemplary embodiment, the rewards server 120 utilizes the association information to calculate the rewards points generated by a consumer's purchase. For example, an appropriate series of pointers leading from a SKU to a UPC to a manufacturer ID may ultimately direct the rewards server 120 to employ a 2-for-1 manufacturer rewards ratio to award a consumer twice as many points as the dollar amount of the consumer's total transaction price. In another exemplary embodiment, an appropriate series of pointers may result in the calculation of rewards points based upon multiple rewards criteria, such as rewards criteria associated with the manufacturer of the item as well as rewards criteria associated with a third-party provider for example.
In a further embodiment, the rewards server 120 may use the association of UPC and SKU number data to analyze a variety of marketing variables across multiple manufacturers and retailers. For example, rewards server 120 may use a series of pointers leading from an SKU to a UPC and then to a “consumer profile” field or table to correlate, for instance, consumer spending behaviors, particular manufacturers, and/or specific products across multiple retailers for example.
In alternative embodiments, association of the UPC data and SKU number may take place at any of the rewards terminal 116, the retailer POS terminal 112, the retailer processor 110, the retailer regional processor 114 (or a retailer national processor), and/or the central rewards mechanism 102.
In one embodiment, the retailer 104 may offer an incentive or loyalty program that is independent from the program offered by the system 100. Alternatively, the retailer 104 may use the system's UPC data for its own internal purposes.
With momentary reference to
If the filtering module search on the rewards program database does not return any records or insufficient information (step 806), then the POS transaction does not qualify the initiating consumer for a reward program and the transaction is processed normally (step 810). However, if the search returns one or more records or sufficient information (step 806), then the POS transaction qualifies the initiating consumer for a reward program and the filtering module retrieves specific reward program data (step 812). In another embodiment, before or after qualifying an entity, the system may request additional information from the merchant, consumer and/or any other entity discussed herein. Based on the reward program data, the rewards server 120 calculates the reward (step 814) based on any number of conditions such as, for example, the location of the purchase, the time of the purchase, a customer identifier, and the like.
It should be noted that the calculation of a reward at the merchant level (step 812) is not necessary. The process flow described above may be incorporated to filter transactions to determine when a purchase transaction qualifies the initiating consumer for rewards based on SKU/UPC matching as described in reference to
In another embodiment, the filtering module requires only minimal information from the retailer POS because the retailer provides more detailed information in advance, which is stored within a database at the rewards server 120. With reference to
If a SKU is located in the retailer data that corresponds to the transaction SKU (step 906), then the filtering module retrieves stored retailer information corresponding to the SKU (step 912). Retailer information may include, for example, a retailer ID, merchant classification code, merchant consortium code, location code, and the like. Reward server 120 uses the retailer information to perform a search on a database storing reward program data (step 912). A retailer, group of retailers, or any other third-party may interact with the reward server to configure a reward program. The reward program may be based on an individual retailer (retailer ID), retailer type (merchant classification code), retailer grouping (merchant consortium), and retailer location (location code). For example, in an effort to attract more consumers to a shopping mall, a group of retailers within the shopping mall may form a consortium based on an agreement to issue reward points based purchases made within any of the stores within the consortium. As such, the consortium may configure a reward program with the reward server 120, wherein a merchant consortium code is provided and stored with other program details. Reward server 120 may further store information relating to each individual member of the consortium, such that when a transaction SKU is matched to a retailer (step 906), the retrieved retailer record (step 912) may include a consortium code that is used to retrieve reward program information (step 912).
If the filtering module does not locate reward program data based on the retailer information (step 914), then the transaction is subject to the SKU/UPC matching process described in reference to
Practitioners will appreciate that the systems and process steps described above are for explanation only and do not limit the scope of the invention. For example, the various processes may be executed in any order and filtering may occur prior to, during, or following transaction processing at a Card Authorization System (CAS). Moreover, the invention is not limited to the filtering elements as described above. The invention contemplates additional filtering elements and/or layers such as, for example, postal code of the retailer, postal code of the purchaser, a purchaser classification, purchaser demographics, purchase time periods, payment type, and the like. Further, the transaction filtering and matching processes, as described herein, may be used to calculate and issue rewards based on various payment instruments including, for example, credit cards, charge cards, debit cards, prepaid cards, stored value cards, gift cards, reward cards, etc.
According to one embodiment, the various system components and steps described above may be incorporated within a CAS in order to calculate rewards and provide transaction authorization for purchases made through a payment instrument. The payment instrument may include, for example, a credit card, debit card, gift card, gift certificate, rewards card, pre-paid credit card, and the like.
In the foregoing specification, the invention has been described with reference to specific embodiments. However, it will be appreciated that various modifications and changes can be made without departing from the scope of the present invention as set forth in the claims below. The specification and figures are to be regarded in an illustrative manner, rather than a restrictive one, and all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of present invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given above. For example, the steps recited in any of the method or process claims may be executed in any order and are not limited to the order presented in the claims.
Benefits, other advantages, and solutions to problems have been described above with regard to specific embodiments. However, the benefits, advantages, solutions to problems, and any element(s) that may cause any benefit, advantage, or solution to occur or become more pronounced are not to be construed as critical, required, or essential features or elements of any or all the claims. As used herein, the terms “comprises”, “comprising”, or any other variation thereof, are intended to cover a non-exclusive inclusion, such that a process, method, article, or apparatus that comprises a list of elements does not include only those elements but may include other elements not expressly listed or inherent to such process, method, article, or apparatus. Further, no element described herein is required for the practice of the invention unless expressly described as “essential” or “critical”.
|Cited Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US4087660||Jun 30, 1976||May 2, 1978||Sedley Bruce S||Magnetic card reader|
|US4358672||May 16, 1980||Nov 9, 1982||The Telemine Company, Inc.||Pay per view television control device|
|US4473825||Mar 5, 1982||Sep 25, 1984||Walton Charles A||Electronic identification system with power input-output interlock and increased capabilities|
|US4546241||Dec 10, 1982||Oct 8, 1985||Walton Charles A||Electronic proximity identification system|
|US4609812||Sep 10, 1985||Sep 2, 1986||Drexler Technology Corporation||Prerecorded dual strip data storage card|
|US4634848||Feb 14, 1984||Jan 6, 1987||Omron Tateisi Electronics Co.||Card information selecting system|
|US4910672||Dec 4, 1987||Mar 20, 1990||Catalina Marketing Corporation||Method and apparatus for dispensing discount coupons|
|US5025372||Sep 25, 1989||Jun 18, 1991||Meridian Enterprises, Inc.||System and method for administration of incentive award program through use of credit|
|US5056019||Aug 29, 1989||Oct 8, 1991||Citicorp Pos Information Servies, Inc.||Automated purchase reward accounting system and method|
|US5117355||Apr 18, 1990||May 26, 1992||Mccarthy Patrick D||Centralized consumer cash valve accumulation system for multiple merchants|
|US5128752||Oct 25, 1990||Jul 7, 1992||Kohorn H Von||System and method for generating and redeeming tokens|
|US5173851||Feb 15, 1990||Dec 22, 1992||Catalina Marketing International, Inc.||Method and apparatus for dispensing discount coupons in response to the purchase of one or more products|
|US5200889||Aug 26, 1991||Apr 6, 1993||Teraoka Seiko Co., Ltd.||System for maintaining continuous total of refund amounts due a customer and for allowing customer designation of the amount of refund to be applied to a purchase|
|US5201010||May 19, 1992||Apr 6, 1993||Credit Verification Corporation||Method and system for building a database and performing marketing based upon prior shopping history|
|US5202826||Nov 26, 1991||Apr 13, 1993||Mccarthy Patrick D||Centralized consumer cash value accumulation system for multiple merchants|
|US5233514||Jan 9, 1990||Aug 3, 1993||Luay Ayyoubi||System and method for redeeming and accumulating stock purchase credits in a company by the participating consumers|
|US5237620||May 19, 1992||Aug 17, 1993||Credit Verification Corporation||Check reader method and system for reading check MICR code|
|US5256863||Nov 5, 1991||Oct 26, 1993||Comark Technologies, Inc.||In-store universal control system|
|US5287268||Nov 16, 1992||Feb 15, 1994||Mccarthy Patrick D||Centralized consumer cash value accumulation system for multiple merchants|
|US5305196||May 19, 1992||Apr 19, 1994||Credit Verification Corporation||Check transaction processing, database building and marketing method and system utilizing automatic check reading|
|US5327508||Feb 10, 1993||Jul 5, 1994||Credit Verification Corporation||Method and system for building a database and performing marketing based upon prior shopping history|
|US5353218||Sep 17, 1992||Oct 4, 1994||Ad Response Micromarketing Corporation||Focused coupon system|
|US5382779||May 7, 1993||Jan 17, 1995||Digicomp Research Corporation||Shelf price label verification apparatus and method|
|US5388165||Jan 4, 1994||Feb 7, 1995||Credit Verification Corporation||Method and system for building a database and performing marketing based upon prior shopping history|
|US5424524||Jun 24, 1993||Jun 13, 1995||Ruppert; Jonathan P.||Personal scanner/computer for displaying shopping lists and scanning barcodes to aid shoppers|
|US5430644||Nov 9, 1994||Jul 4, 1995||Credit Verification Corporation||Check transaction processing, database building and marketing method and system utilizing automatic check reading|
|US5434394||Feb 25, 1994||Jul 18, 1995||Tandy Corporation||Automated order and delivery system|
|US5448471||Mar 30, 1994||Sep 5, 1995||Credit Verification Corporation||Check transaction processing, database building and marketing method and system utilizing automatic check reading|
|US5467269||May 31, 1994||Nov 14, 1995||J. B. Laughrey, Inc.||Method and means for telephonically crediting customers with rebates and refunds|
|US5471669||Mar 17, 1994||Nov 28, 1995||Alchemist And Company, Inc.||Coupon savings account system|
|US5477038||Oct 25, 1993||Dec 19, 1995||Visa International||Method and apparatus for distributing currency|
|US5483444||Feb 7, 1995||Jan 9, 1996||Radisson Hotels International, Inc.||System for awarding credits to persons who book travel-related reservations|
|US5491326||Nov 23, 1994||Feb 13, 1996||Xcp, Inc.||Card metering system|
|US5502636||Jan 31, 1992||Mar 26, 1996||R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company||Personalized coupon generating and processing system|
|US5513102||Jun 28, 1994||Apr 30, 1996||Auriemma Consulting Group, Inc.||Data processing methods of implementing an award to an authorized user of a credit card|
|US5535407||Feb 25, 1994||Jul 9, 1996||Oki Electric Industry Co., Ltd.||Data processing system for locally updating customer data distributed by a host computer to a remote facility and for returning the updated customer data to the host computer|
|US5537314||Feb 23, 1995||Jul 16, 1996||First Marketrust Intl.||Referral recognition system for an incentive award program|
|US5559313||Dec 23, 1994||Sep 24, 1996||Lucent Technologies Inc.||Categorization of purchased items for each transaction by a smart card|
|US5592560||Sep 8, 1994||Jan 7, 1997||Credit Verification Corporation||Method and system for building a database and performing marketing based upon prior shopping history|
|US5612868||Feb 9, 1995||Mar 18, 1997||Catalina Marketing International, Inc||Method and apparatus for dispensing discount coupons|
|US5621812||May 17, 1993||Apr 15, 1997||Credit Verification Corporation||Method and system for building a database for use with selective incentive marketing in response to customer shopping histories|
|US5638457||Feb 28, 1994||Jun 10, 1997||Credit Verification Corporation||Method and system for building a database for use with selective incentive marketing in response to customer shopping histories|
|US5642485||Jun 1, 1995||Jun 24, 1997||Credit Verification Corporation||Method and system for selective incentive point-of-sale marketing in response to customer shopping histories|
|US5644723||Jan 4, 1994||Jul 1, 1997||Credit Verification Corporation||Method and system for selective incentive point-of-sale marketing in response to customer shopping histories|
|US5649114||Jun 1, 1995||Jul 15, 1997||Credit Verification Corporation||Method and system for selective incentive point-of-sale marketing in response to customer shopping histories|
|US5649115||Jun 2, 1994||Jul 15, 1997||Intuit, Inc.||Tracking method and apparatus|
|US5659469||Apr 27, 1995||Aug 19, 1997||Credit Verification Corporation|
|US5673322||Mar 22, 1996||Sep 30, 1997||Bell Communications Research, Inc.||System and method for providing protocol translation and filtering to access the world wide web from wireless or low-bandwidth networks|
|US5675662||Sep 6, 1994||Oct 7, 1997||Credit Verification Corporation||Method and system for building a database for use with selective incentive marketing in response to customer shopping histories|
|US5677952||Dec 6, 1994||Oct 14, 1997||International Business Machines Corporation||Method to protect information on a computer storage device|
|US5687322||Jun 1, 1995||Nov 11, 1997||Credit Verification Corporation|
|US5689100||Mar 21, 1996||Nov 18, 1997||Martiz, Inc.||Debit card system and method for implementing incentive award program|
|US5708782||Dec 2, 1994||Jan 13, 1998||Larson; Blaine||Method and apparatus for dispensing discount coupons|
|US5710886||Jun 16, 1995||Jan 20, 1998||Sellectsoft, L.C.||Electric couponing method and apparatus|
|US5715399||May 30, 1995||Feb 3, 1998||Amazon.Com, Inc.||Secure method and system for communicating a list of credit card numbers over a non-secure network|
|US5729693||May 3, 1996||Mar 17, 1998||Lucent Technologies, Inc.||System and method to automatically provide an electronic consumer rebate|
|US5734838||Jun 7, 1995||Mar 31, 1998||American Savings Bank, F.A.||Database computer architecture for managing an incentive award program and checking float of funds at time of purchase|
|US5742845||Jun 22, 1995||Apr 21, 1998||Datascape, Inc.||System for extending present open network communication protocols to communicate with non-standard I/O devices directly coupled to an open network|
|US5749075||Dec 28, 1995||May 5, 1998||Interactive Media Works, L.L.C.||Method for providing prepaid internet access and/or long distance calling including the distribution of specialized calling cards|
|US5761648||Jul 25, 1995||Jun 2, 1998||Interactive Coupon Network||Interactive marketing network and process using electronic certificates|
|US5765141||Oct 6, 1995||Jun 9, 1998||Spector; Donald||Computerized merchandising system|
|US5774868||Dec 23, 1994||Jun 30, 1998||International Business And Machines Corporation||Automatic sales promotion selection system and method|
|US5774869||Jun 6, 1995||Jun 30, 1998||Interactive Media Works, Llc||Method for providing sponsor paid internet access and simultaneous sponsor promotion|
|US5774870||Dec 14, 1995||Jun 30, 1998||Netcentives, Inc.||Fully integrated, on-line interactive frequency and award redemption program|
|US5794230||Jun 28, 1996||Aug 11, 1998||Microsoft Corporation||Method and system for creating and searching directories on a server|
|US5802275||Jun 22, 1994||Sep 1, 1998||Lucent Technologies Inc.||Isolation of non-secure software from secure software to limit virus infection|
|US5806043||Nov 6, 1995||Sep 8, 1998||Interactive Media Works, L.L.C.||Method for providing customer on-line support via prepaid internet access|
|US5806044||Feb 20, 1996||Sep 8, 1998||Powell; Ken R.||System and method for distributing coupons through a system of computer networks|
|US5806045||Jul 8, 1996||Sep 8, 1998||Cardone Development Company||Method and system for allocating and redeeming incentive credits between a portable device and a base device|
|US5814796||Jan 31, 1996||Sep 29, 1998||Mag-Tek, Inc.||Terminal for issuing and processing data-bearing documents|
|US5816918||Nov 14, 1996||Oct 6, 1998||Rlt Acquistion, Inc.||Prize redemption system for games|
|US5822230||Jul 8, 1996||Oct 13, 1998||Elonex Plc Ltd.||Personal digital assistant module having a broadcast pointer device|
|US5832457||Apr 3, 1995||Nov 3, 1998||Catalina Marketing International, Inc.||Method and apparatus for selective distribution of discount coupons based on prior customer behavior|
|US5832458||Nov 19, 1997||Nov 3, 1998||Electronic Data Systems Corporation||System and method for electronically auditing point-of-sale transactions|
|US5834748||May 17, 1996||Nov 10, 1998||Aveka, Inc.||Transactional item with non-parallel magnetic elements|
|US5839117||Jan 6, 1997||Nov 17, 1998||Andersen Consulting Llp||Computerized event-driven routing system and method for use in an order entry system|
|US5844230||Apr 14, 1995||Dec 1, 1998||Lalonde; Michael G.||Information card|
|US5845259||Jun 27, 1996||Dec 1, 1998||Electronic Consumer Concepts, L.L.C.||Electronic coupon dispensing system|
|US5848399||Jul 25, 1996||Dec 8, 1998||Burke; Raymond R.||Computer system for allowing a consumer to purchase packaged goods at home|
|US5855007||Nov 15, 1995||Dec 29, 1998||Jovicic; Neboisa||Electronic coupon communication system|
|US5857175||Aug 11, 1995||Jan 5, 1999||Micro Enhancement International||System and method for offering targeted discounts to customers|
|US5864822||Jun 25, 1996||Jan 26, 1999||Baker, Iii; Bernard R.||Benefits tracking and correlation system for use with third-party enabling organization|
|US5870722||Sep 22, 1995||Feb 9, 1999||At&T Wireless Services Inc||Apparatus and method for batch processing of wireless financial transactions|
|US5884277||May 1, 1995||Mar 16, 1999||Vinod Khosla||Process for issuing coupons for goods or services to purchasers at non-secure terminals|
|US5892827||Jun 14, 1996||Apr 6, 1999||Catalina Marketing International, Inc.||Method and apparatus for generating personal identification numbers for use in consumer transactions|
|US5892900||Aug 30, 1996||Apr 6, 1999||Intertrust Technologies Corp.||Systems and methods for secure transaction management and electronic rights protection|
|US5892905||Dec 23, 1996||Apr 6, 1999||International Business Machines Corporation||Computer apparatus and method for providing a common user interface for software applications accessed via the world-wide web|
|US5898838||Sep 30, 1997||Apr 27, 1999||Datascape, Inc.||Editor for developing statements to support i/o operation on open network using segregator for segregating protocol statements from application statements upon verification of correspondence|
|US5903874||Jun 27, 1996||May 11, 1999||Mci Communications Corporation||System and method for electronic coupon management|
|US5903880||Jul 19, 1996||May 11, 1999||Biffar; Peter C.||Self-contained payment system with circulating digital vouchers|
|US5905246||Oct 31, 1996||May 18, 1999||Fajkowski; Peter W.||Method and apparatus for coupon management and redemption|
|US5905908||Dec 19, 1997||May 18, 1999||Datascape, Inc.||Open network system for I/O operations with non-standard I/O devices utilizing extended protocol including device identifier and identifier for operation to be performed with device|
|US5907830||Feb 13, 1996||May 25, 1999||Engel; Peter||Electronic coupon distribution|
|US5907831||Apr 4, 1997||May 25, 1999||Lotvin; Mikhail||Computer apparatus and methods supporting different categories of users|
|US5909023||Feb 21, 1997||Jun 1, 1999||Hitachi, Ltd.||Online shopping support method and system for sales promotions based on the purchase history of users|
|US5913210||Mar 27, 1998||Jun 15, 1999||Call; Charles G.||Methods and apparatus for disseminating product information via the internet|
|US5915007||Apr 14, 1998||Jun 22, 1999||Catalina Marketing International, Inc.||Method and system for using a frequent shopper card as a phone calling card|
|US5915019||Jan 8, 1997||Jun 22, 1999||Intertrust Technologies Corp.||Systems and methods for secure transaction management and electronic rights protection|
|US5915243||Aug 29, 1996||Jun 22, 1999||Smolen; Daniel T.||Method and apparatus for delivering consumer promotions|
|US5915244||Dec 31, 1996||Jun 22, 1999||Bi Performance Services||Computerized incentive program with plateau pricing and remote award redemption|
|US5918211||May 30, 1996||Jun 29, 1999||Retail Multimedia Corporation||Method and apparatus for promoting products and influencing consumer purchasing decisions at the point-of-purchase|
|US5918213||Dec 22, 1995||Jun 29, 1999||Mci Communications Corporation||System and method for automated remote previewing and purchasing of music, video, software, and other multimedia products|
|US5918214||Oct 25, 1996||Jun 29, 1999||Ipf, Inc.||System and method for finding product and service related information on the internet|
|US5920847||Oct 7, 1996||Jul 6, 1999||Visa International Service Association||Electronic bill pay system|
|US5923016||Dec 3, 1996||Jul 13, 1999||Carlson Companies, Inc.||In-store points redemption system & method|
|US5933811||Aug 20, 1996||Aug 3, 1999||Paul D. Angles||System and method for delivering customized advertisements within interactive communication systems|
|US5937391||May 29, 1997||Aug 10, 1999||Fujitsu Limited||Point-service system in online shopping mall|
|US5937394||Nov 17, 1997||Aug 10, 1999||Jaesent, Inc.||System and method for pseudo cash transactions with credit back|
|US5938727||Jan 31, 1997||Aug 17, 1999||Ikeda; Takashi||Communication system and method via digital codes|
|US5940506||Dec 11, 1997||Aug 17, 1999||Inventec Corporation||Method of using a hand-held device to protect information stored in a computer system|
|US5950173||May 12, 1997||Sep 7, 1999||Ipf, Inc.||System and method for delivering consumer product related information to consumers within retail environments using internet-based information servers and sales agents|
|US5952638||Nov 25, 1996||Sep 14, 1999||Xerox Corporation||Space efficient method of electronic payments|
|US5953005||Jun 28, 1996||Sep 14, 1999||Sun Microsystems, Inc.||System and method for on-line multimedia access|
|US5956695||Nov 12, 1997||Sep 21, 1999||Maritz, Inc.||Filter processor and method for implementing a program|
|US5956700||Jul 8, 1997||Sep 21, 1999||Midwest Payment Systems||System and method for paying bills and other obligations including selective payor and payee controls|
|US5964830||Aug 20, 1996||Oct 12, 1999||Durrett; Charles M.||User portal device for the world wide web to communicate with a website server|
|US5970469||Mar 26, 1996||Oct 19, 1999||Supermarkets Online, Inc.||System and method for providing shopping aids and incentives to customers through a computer network|
|US5971277||Aug 12, 1998||Oct 26, 1999||International Business Machines Corporation||Mechanism for retrieving information using data encoded on an object|
|US5974398||Apr 11, 1997||Oct 26, 1999||At&T Corp.||Method and apparatus enabling valuation of user access of advertising carried by interactive information and entertainment services|
|US5978777||Oct 21, 1997||Nov 2, 1999||Parfums Christian Dior||Electronic system for selective presentation of information at a place of sale|
|US5979757||Dec 20, 1996||Nov 9, 1999||Symbol Technologies, Inc.||Method and system for presenting item information using a portable data terminal|
|US5982520||Mar 28, 1996||Nov 9, 1999||Xerox Corporation||Personal storage device for application and data transfer|
|US5983196||Dec 18, 1996||Nov 9, 1999||Phoneworks, Inc.||Interactive computerized methods and apparatus for conducting an incentive awards program|
|US5983205||Apr 5, 1999||Nov 9, 1999||New York University||Computer-based method for the fair division of ownership of goods|
|US5984191||Aug 6, 1997||Nov 16, 1999||International Card Technology||Multiple magnetic stripe transaction cards and systems for the utilization thereof|
|US5988500||Aug 6, 1996||Nov 23, 1999||Aveka, Inc.||Antiforgery security system|
|US5991376||May 20, 1997||Nov 23, 1999||At&T Corp.||Subscriber reward method|
|US5991736||Feb 26, 1997||Nov 23, 1999||Ferguson; Henry||Patronage incentive award system incorporating retirement accounts and method thereof|
|US5992738||Nov 21, 1996||Nov 30, 1999||Hitachi, Ltd.||IC card automated transaction terminal and IC card used therein|
|US5992752||Jun 4, 1997||Nov 30, 1999||Metrologic Instruments, Inc.||Internet-based system for enabling information-related transactions over the internet using Java-enabled internet terminals provided with bar code symbol readers for reading Java-Applet encoded bar code symbols|
|US5995942||Mar 13, 1996||Nov 30, 1999||Tactical Retailing Solutions||Store-level marketing system|
|US5999914||Oct 16, 1996||Dec 7, 1999||Microsoft Corporation||Electronic promotion system for an electronic merchant system|
|US6000608||Jul 10, 1997||Dec 14, 1999||Dorf; Robert E.||Multifunction card system|
|US6002771||May 22, 1996||Dec 14, 1999||Sun Microsystems, Inc.||Method and system for regulating discounts on merchandise distributed through networked computer systems|
|US6003013||May 29, 1998||Dec 14, 1999||Harrah's Operating Company, Inc.||Customer worth differentiation by selective activation of physical instrumentalities within the casino|
|US6007426||Mar 17, 1998||Dec 28, 1999||Rlt Acquisitions, Inc.||Skill based prize games for wide area networks|
|US6009411||Nov 14, 1997||Dec 28, 1999||Concept Shopping, Inc.||Method and system for distributing and reconciling electronic promotions|
|US6009412||Jun 25, 1998||Dec 28, 1999||Netcentives, Inc.||Fully integrated on-line interactive frequency and award redemption program|
|US6012038||Jun 22, 1998||Jan 4, 2000||Softcard Systems, Inc.||System and method for controlling distribution of coupons|
|US6012039||Feb 5, 1999||Jan 4, 2000||Smarttouch, Inc.||Tokenless biometric electronic rewards system|
|US6012051||Feb 6, 1997||Jan 4, 2000||America Online, Inc.||Consumer profiling system with analytic decision processor|
|US6012636||Apr 22, 1997||Jan 11, 2000||Smith; Frank E.||Multiple card data system having first and second memory elements including magnetic strip and fingerprints scanning means|
|US6014634||Aug 4, 1997||Jan 11, 2000||Supermarkets Online, Inc.||System and method for providing shopping aids and incentives to customers through a computer network|
|US6014635||Dec 8, 1997||Jan 11, 2000||Shc Direct, Inc.||System and method for providing a discount credit transaction network|
|US6015344||Sep 29, 1997||Jan 18, 2000||Rlt Acquisition, Inc.||Prize redemption system for games|
|US6016476||Jan 16, 1998||Jan 18, 2000||International Business Machines Corporation||Portable information and transaction processing system and method utilizing biometric authorization and digital certificate security|
|US6018695||Jun 11, 1999||Jan 25, 2000||Navigation Technologies Corporation||System and method for distributing information for storage media|
|US6018718||Aug 28, 1997||Jan 25, 2000||Walker Asset Management Limited Partnership||Method and system for processing customized reward offers|
|US6018724||Jun 30, 1997||Jan 25, 2000||Sun Micorsystems, Inc.||Method and apparatus for authenticating on-line transaction data|
|US6021399||Nov 25, 1996||Feb 1, 2000||Xerox Corporation||Space efficient method of verifying electronic payments|
|US6024640||May 19, 1997||Feb 15, 2000||Walker Asset Management Limited Partnership||Off-line remote lottery system|
|US6026370||Aug 28, 1997||Feb 15, 2000||Catalina Marketing International, Inc.||Method and apparatus for generating purchase incentive mailing based on prior purchase history|
|US6026375||Dec 5, 1997||Feb 15, 2000||Nortel Networks Corporation||Method and apparatus for processing orders from customers in a mobile environment|
|US6026377||Dec 4, 1998||Feb 15, 2000||Burke; Raymond R.||Computer system for allowing a consumer to purchase packaged goods at home|
|US6032133||Nov 3, 1995||Feb 29, 2000||Visainternational Service Association||Electronic bill pay system|
|US6032136||Nov 17, 1998||Feb 29, 2000||First Usa Bank, N.A.||Customer activated multi-value (CAM) card|
|US6035280||Apr 10, 1996||Mar 7, 2000||Christensen; Scott N.||Electronic discount couponing method and apparatus for generating an electronic list of coupons|
|US6035281||Jun 16, 1997||Mar 7, 2000||International Business Machines Corporation||System and method of multiparty billing for Web access|
|US6038321||Jan 30, 1997||Mar 14, 2000||Laurel Intelligent Systems Co., Ltd.||Data transfer method, communication system and storage medium|
|US6039244||Jan 13, 1997||Mar 21, 2000||Finsterwald; Martin||Method of building up a data bank containing customer data and/or for the organization of a rebate or coupon system|
|US6041308||Dec 4, 1998||Mar 21, 2000||Priceline.Com Incorporated||System and method for motivating submission of conditional purchase offers|
|US6041309||Dec 23, 1998||Mar 21, 2000||Oneclip.Com, Incorporated||Method of and system for distributing and redeeming electronic coupons|
|US6044360||Jun 16, 1997||Mar 28, 2000||Picciallo; Michael J.||Third party credit card|
|US6047269||Nov 21, 1998||Apr 4, 2000||Peter Biffar||Self-contained payment system with circulating digital vouchers|
|US6049778||Oct 31, 1997||Apr 11, 2000||Walker Asset Management Limited Partnership||Method and apparatus for administering a reward program|
|US6049779||Apr 6, 1998||Apr 11, 2000||Berkson; Stephen P.||Call center incentive system and method|
|US6055573||Jan 7, 1999||Apr 25, 2000||Supermarkets Online, Inc.||Communicating with a computer based on an updated purchase behavior classification of a particular consumer|
|US6058371||May 8, 1998||May 2, 2000||Djian; Jacques-Henri||Method of administering a financial instrument having a service voucher-based return component|
|US6058482||May 22, 1998||May 2, 2000||Sun Microsystems, Inc.||Apparatus, method and system for providing network security for executable code in computer and communications networks|
|US6061660||Mar 18, 1998||May 9, 2000||York Eggleston||System and method for incentive programs and award fulfillment|
|US6064979||Nov 19, 1996||May 16, 2000||Ipf, Inc.||Method of and system for finding and serving consumer product related information over the internet using manufacturer identification numbers|
|US6065120||Dec 9, 1997||May 16, 2000||Phone.Com, Inc.||Method and system for self-provisioning a rendezvous to ensure secure access to information in a database from multiple devices|
|US6072468||Apr 10, 1997||Jun 6, 2000||International Business Machines Corporation||Docking system for establishing secure wireless connection between computer devices|
|US6073840||Mar 5, 1998||Jun 13, 2000||Gilbarco Inc.||Fuel dispensing and retail system providing for transponder prepayment|
|US6075863||Aug 9, 1996||Jun 13, 2000||Encanto Networks||Intelligent communication device|
|US6076101||Aug 14, 1997||Jun 13, 2000||Fujitsu Limited||Electronic mail processing system with bonus point tracking|
|US6078898||Mar 18, 1998||Jun 20, 2000||Schlumberger Technologies, Inc.||System and method of transactional taxation using secure stored data devices|
|US6081900||Mar 16, 1999||Jun 27, 2000||Novell, Inc.||Secure intranet access|
|US6088730||Jan 12, 1998||Jul 11, 2000||International Business Machines Corporation||Methods and apparatus for downloading data between an information processing device and an external device via a wireless communications technique|
|US6092069||Dec 19, 1997||Jul 18, 2000||A.C. Nielsen Company||Market research database containing separate product and naked product information|
|US6092201||Jan 27, 1998||Jul 18, 2000||Entrust Technologies||Method and apparatus for extending secure communication operations via a shared list|
|US6094486||Jul 23, 1999||Jul 25, 2000||Marchant; Brian E.||Security apparatus for data transmission with dynamic random encryption|
|US6101483||May 29, 1998||Aug 8, 2000||Symbol Technologies, Inc.||Personal shopping system portable terminal|
|US6101484||Mar 31, 1999||Aug 8, 2000||Mercata, Inc.||Dynamic market equilibrium management system, process and article of manufacture|
|US6101485||Mar 26, 1998||Aug 8, 2000||International Business Machines Corporation||Electronic solicitations for internet commerce|
|US6105001||Aug 15, 1997||Aug 15, 2000||Larry A. Masi||Non-cash transaction incentive and commission distribution system|
|US6105865||Jul 17, 1998||Aug 22, 2000||Hardesty; Laurence Daniel||Financial transaction system with retirement saving benefit|
|US6115737||Jul 24, 1996||Sep 5, 2000||Telcordia Technologies, Inc.||System and method for accessing customer contact services over a network|
|US6119230||Oct 1, 1997||Sep 12, 2000||Novell, Inc.||Distributed dynamic security capabilities|
|US6128599||Oct 9, 1997||Oct 3, 2000||Walker Asset Management Limited Partnership||Method and apparatus for processing customized group reward offers|
|US6128603||Sep 9, 1997||Oct 3, 2000||Dent; Warren T.||Consumer-based system and method for managing and paying electronic billing statements|
|US6129274||Jun 9, 1998||Oct 10, 2000||Fujitsu Limited||System and method for updating shopping transaction history using electronic personal digital shopping assistant|
|US6131810||Feb 1, 1999||Oct 17, 2000||Citibank, N.A.||Integrated full service consumer banking system and system and method for opening an account|
|US6134318||Mar 19, 1997||Oct 17, 2000||At&T Corp||System and method for telemarketing through a hypertext network|
|US6134548||Nov 19, 1998||Oct 17, 2000||Ac Properties B.V.||System, method and article of manufacture for advanced mobile bargain shopping|
|US6138911||Apr 27, 1999||Oct 31, 2000||Carlson Companies, Inc.||In-store points redemption system and method|
|US6141161||Sep 14, 1998||Oct 31, 2000||Neuron Corporation||Magnetic card recording/reproducing apparatus and method|
|US6145739||Oct 24, 1997||Nov 14, 2000||Intellect Australia Pty Ltd.||System and method for performing transactions and an intelligent device therefor|
|US6148405||Nov 10, 1997||Nov 14, 2000||Phone.Com, Inc.||Method and system for secure lightweight transactions in wireless data networks|
|US6154214||May 28, 1998||Nov 28, 2000||Nuvomedia, Inc.||Display orientation features for hand-held content display device|
|US6161096||Oct 22, 1998||Dec 12, 2000||Bell; Lawrence L.||Method and apparatus for modeling and executing deferred award instrument plan|
|US6164533||Nov 12, 1998||Dec 26, 2000||Barton; Blain||Point of sale automatic savings program contribution system|
|US6173267||Feb 24, 1998||Jan 9, 2001||Laurie Cairns||Method for product promotion|
|US6178407||Apr 19, 1999||Jan 23, 2001||Mikhail Lotvin||Computer apparatus and methods supporting different categories of users|
|US6178408||Jul 14, 1999||Jan 23, 2001||Recot, Inc.||Method of redeeming collectible points|
|US6182894||Oct 28, 1998||Feb 6, 2001||American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.||Systems and methods for authorizing a transaction card|
|US6185541||May 12, 1999||Feb 6, 2001||Supermarkets Online, Inc.||System and method for providing shopping aids and incentives to customers through a computer network|
|US6189103||Jul 21, 1998||Feb 13, 2001||Novell, Inc.||Authority delegation with secure operating system queues|
|US6195677||Jun 2, 1998||Feb 27, 2001||Kabushiki Kaisha Toshiba||Distributed network computing system for data exchange/conversion between terminals|
|US6196458||Dec 1, 1997||Mar 6, 2001||Walker Digital, Llc||Method and apparatus for printing a billing statement to provide supplementary product sales|
|US6199099||Mar 5, 1999||Mar 6, 2001||Ac Properties B.V.||System, method and article of manufacture for a mobile communication network utilizing a distributed communication network|
|US6216129||Mar 12, 1999||Apr 10, 2001||Expanse Networks, Inc.||Advertisement selection system supporting discretionary target market characteristics|
|US6222914||Sep 2, 1998||Apr 24, 2001||Mcmullin John L.||System and method for administration of an incentive award system having a delayed award payment using a credit instrument|
|US6236978||Nov 14, 1997||May 22, 2001||New York University||System and method for dynamic profiling of users in one-to-one applications|
|US6243688||Aug 25, 1999||Jun 5, 2001||Dyan T. Kalina||Internet-based credit interchange system of converting purchase credit awards through credit exchange system for purchase of investment vehicle|
|US6249772||Jul 8, 1997||Jun 19, 2001||Walker Digital, Llc||Systems and methods wherein a buyer purchases a product at a first price and acquires the product from a merchant that offers the product for sale at a second price|
|US6249773||Mar 26, 1998||Jun 19, 2001||International Business Machines Corp.||Electronic commerce with shopping list builder|
|US6251017||Apr 21, 1999||Jun 26, 2001||David Leason||Game or lottery with a reward validated and/or redeemed online|
|US6267672||Oct 21, 1998||Jul 31, 2001||Ayecon Entertainment, L.L.C.||Product sales enhancing internet game system|
|US6289322||Mar 3, 1998||Sep 11, 2001||Checkfree Corporation||Electronic bill processing|
|US6292786||Aug 11, 1999||Sep 18, 2001||Incentech, Inc.||Method and system for generating incentives based on substantially real-time product purchase information|
|US6298335||Nov 18, 1998||Oct 2, 2001||Robert Bernstein||Method of controlling payment of debts|
|US6332126||Aug 1, 1996||Dec 18, 2001||First Data Corporation||System and method for a targeted payment system discount program|
|US6332157||Jun 29, 1999||Dec 18, 2001||Webtv Networks, Inc.||Method of accessing multiple services from multiple service providers|
|US6334111||Oct 6, 2000||Dec 25, 2001||Careau & Co.||Method for allocating commissions over the internet using tags|
|US6336098||Dec 11, 1997||Jan 1, 2002||International Business Machines Corp.||Method for electronic distribution and redemption of coupons on the world wide web|
|US6363362||Apr 7, 1999||Mar 26, 2002||Checkfree Services Corporation||Technique for integrating electronic accounting systems with an electronic payment system|
|US6386444||Jul 30, 1999||May 14, 2002||First Usa Bank, N.A.||System and methods for card payment instrument with rebate applied to an insurance premium|
|US6402029||Sep 18, 2000||Jun 11, 2002||E-Micro Corporation||Method and apparatus for combining data for multiple magnetic stripe cards or other sources|
|US6408284||Jun 11, 1999||Jun 18, 2002||Visa International Service Association||Electronic bill pay system for consumers to generate messages directing financial institutions to pay a biller's bill|
|US6438527||Aug 31, 1995||Aug 20, 2002||Visa International Service Association||Method and apparatus for paying bills electronically using machine readable information from an invoice|
|US6450407||Apr 21, 2000||Sep 17, 2002||Viztec, Inc.||Chip card rebate system|
|US6452498||May 8, 2001||Sep 17, 2002||Wayport, Inc.||System and method for providing geographic-based advertising|
|US6484147||Oct 15, 1999||Nov 19, 2002||Edexpress, Inc.||Data processing system for facilitating merchandise transactions|
|US6484940||Sep 5, 2000||Nov 26, 2002||Digital Castles||Data storage card having both linear and annular data regions|
|US6486768||Sep 16, 1998||Nov 26, 2002||Carttronics, Llc||Cart return loyalty credit system|
|US6510998||Oct 14, 1999||Jan 28, 2003||Transmo Limited||Card charging system|
|US6522889||Dec 23, 1999||Feb 18, 2003||Nokia Corporation||Method and apparatus for providing precise location information through a communications network|
|US6532448||Nov 19, 1999||Mar 11, 2003||Insightful Corporation||Contest server|
|US6578015||Aug 31, 1999||Jun 10, 2003||Oracle International Corporation||Methods, devices and systems for electronic bill presentment and payment|
|US6594640||Jun 23, 2000||Jul 15, 2003||Richard Postrel||System for electronic barter, trading and redeeming points accumulated in frequent use reward programs|
|US6609150||Dec 21, 2001||Aug 19, 2003||Siebel Systems, Inc.||Web client-server system and method for incompatible page markup and presentation languages|
|US6631358||Dec 27, 1999||Oct 7, 2003||John W. L. Ogilvie||Promoting savings by facilitating incremental commitments made with credit card and other consumer-initiated transactions|
|US6631849||Dec 6, 2000||Oct 14, 2003||Bank One, Delaware, National Association||Selectable multi-purpose card|
|US6687679||Oct 5, 1998||Feb 3, 2004||Walker Digital, Llc||Method and apparatus for determining a progressive discount for a customer based on the frequency of the customer's transactions|
|US6721743||Aug 4, 2000||Apr 13, 2004||Ad. Ken Corporation||Value points exchanging managing method among first and second business entities where value points available to on-line customer obtaining goods or services|
|US6748365||Feb 2, 2000||Jun 8, 2004||Chris Quinlan||Method and system for redeeming product marketing rebates|
|US6820061||Jun 27, 2003||Nov 16, 2004||Richard Postrel||Method and system for exchange and aggregation of reward points via a global computer network|
|US6826594||Jul 15, 2000||Nov 30, 2004||Commission Junction||Method and system for remote content management of a designated portion of a web page|
|US6829586||Aug 25, 2003||Dec 7, 2004||Richard Postrel||Method and system for aggregation of reward points for payment of auctioned items|
|US6842739||Nov 24, 2003||Jan 11, 2005||Richard Postrel||System for electronic barter, trading and redeeming points accumulated in frequent use reward programs|
|US6856976||Dec 1, 2000||Feb 15, 2005||900Pennies Incorporated||Secured commercial transaction|
|US6898570||Jun 19, 1998||May 24, 2005||Walker Digital, Llc||Billing statement customer acquistion system|
|US6931538||Sep 25, 2000||Aug 16, 2005||Takashi Sawaguchi||Portable personal authentication apparatus and electronic system to which access is permitted by the same|
|US6947898||Jun 20, 2003||Sep 20, 2005||Signature Systems, Llc||System for electronic barter, trading and redeeming points accumulated in frequent use reward programs|
|US6985876||Feb 7, 2000||Jan 10, 2006||National Instruments Corporation||System and method for enabling a user of an E-commerce system to visually view and/or configure a product for purchase|
|US7025674||Dec 3, 2002||Apr 11, 2006||Igt||Method and apparatus for awarding and redeeming promotional points at an electronic game|
|US7043752||Mar 26, 2001||May 9, 2006||Siemens Medical Solutions Health Services Corporation||System and user interface supporting concurrent application initiation and interoperability|
|US7096190||May 11, 2005||Aug 22, 2006||Signature Systems Llc|
|US7127414||Oct 14, 1999||Oct 24, 2006||Awadallah Amr A||Methods and computer-readable media for processing web-based new and used good comparison shopping|
|US7187947||Mar 28, 2000||Mar 6, 2007||Affinity Labs, Llc||System and method for communicating selected information to an electronic device|
|US7249197||Oct 20, 2000||Jul 24, 2007||Nortel Networks Limited||System, apparatus and method for personalising web content|
|US7289970||Aug 29, 2000||Oct 30, 2007||Sony Corporation||Method to electronically track personal credit information|
|US7290061||Dec 5, 2001||Oct 30, 2007||Citrix Systems, Inc.||System and method for internet content collaboration|
|US7321901||Sep 29, 2000||Jan 22, 2008||Microsoft Corporation||Application service provider model for manufacturers product specification data|
|US7349867||Dec 22, 2000||Mar 25, 2008||Invenda Corporation||Tracking transactions by using addresses in a communications network|
|US20010032137||Apr 13, 2001||Oct 18, 2001||Shopsforme.Com||Information distribution and redemption system|
|US20010032182||Feb 16, 2001||Oct 18, 2001||Srihari Kumar||Interactive bill payment center|
|US20010032183||May 16, 2001||Oct 18, 2001||Midwest Payment Systems, Inc.||System and method for paying bills and other obligations including selective payor and payee controls|
|US20010034653||Apr 19, 2001||Oct 25, 2001||Yoshimasa Yamamoto||Point service system on the network|
|US20010034720||Mar 7, 2001||Oct 25, 2001||David Armes||System for facilitating a transaction|
|US20010037295||Jan 31, 2001||Nov 1, 2001||Olsen Karl R.||Push model internet bill presentment and payment system and method|
|US20010047342||Jun 28, 2001||Nov 29, 2001||Vincent Cuervo||Credit or debit cards of all kinds to be issued with a bank savings account attched|
|US20010054003||Apr 13, 2001||Dec 20, 2001||Emily Chien||System and method for using loyalty points|
|US20020013728||Jul 19, 2001||Jan 31, 2002||Wilkman Michael A.||Universal transaction manager agent, systems and methods|
|US20020016734||Jan 23, 2001||Feb 7, 2002||Mcgill Edmund||Integrated household management system and method|
|US20020026348||Aug 22, 2001||Feb 28, 2002||Fowler Malcolm R.||Marketing systems and methods|
|US20020046110||Jul 25, 2001||Apr 18, 2002||Gallagher P. Christopher J.||Administering incentive award program|
|US20020049631||Oct 12, 1999||Apr 25, 2002||Eric Williams||Process, system and computer readable medium for providing purchasing incentives to a plurality of retail store environments|
|US20020052940||May 14, 2001||May 2, 2002||Jenny Myers||Method and system for using wireless devices to control one or more generic systems|
|US20020055874||Jul 18, 2001||May 9, 2002||Cohen Robert H.||Method and apparatus for value allocation exchange|
|US20020056044||Oct 16, 2001||May 9, 2002||Stefan Andersson||Security system|
|US20020062253||Oct 19, 2001||May 23, 2002||Sidney Dosh||Loyalty club reward system for use in a broadcast loyalty program|
|US20020069109||Aug 20, 2001||Jun 6, 2002||Phoneworks, Inc.||Interactive computerized methods and apparatus for conducting an incentive awards program|
|US20020069150||Nov 8, 2001||Jun 6, 2002||Biao Ni||System and method to retain customers using rebate in combination with investment instruments to serve customers' long term financial needs|
|US20020075844||Apr 10, 2001||Jun 20, 2002||Hagen W. Alexander||Integrating public and private network resources for optimized broadband wireless access and method|
|US20020077890||Dec 14, 2000||Jun 20, 2002||Lapointe Patrick L.||Methods and systems for interactive collection, exchange and redemption of points|
|US20020077978||Jun 21, 2001||Jun 20, 2002||The Chase Manhattan Bank||Method and system for processing internet payments|
|US20020082918||Oct 31, 2001||Jun 27, 2002||Beenz.Com Inc.||Loyalty system incorporating embedded incentives|
|US20020082920||Nov 13, 2001||Jun 27, 2002||Kermit Austin||System and methods for providing a multi-merchant loyalty program|
|US20020082990||Dec 22, 2000||Jun 27, 2002||J.J. & Associates Inc.||Method of invoice presentation and payment|
|US20020087468||Dec 28, 2000||Jul 4, 2002||Ravi Ganesan||Electronic payment risk processing|
|US20020091593||Nov 2, 2001||Jul 11, 2002||Carl Fowler||Electronic inventory movement and control device|
|US20020095365||Jan 16, 2001||Jul 18, 2002||The Chase Manhattan Bank||Corporate products trading marketplace|
|US20020107733||Apr 12, 2001||Aug 8, 2002||Liu Wanqian D.||Method for promoting products using a world wide web|
|US20020111919||Apr 24, 2001||Aug 15, 2002||Visa International Service Association||Online payer authentication service|
|US20020120513||Feb 6, 2002||Aug 29, 2002||Webb Christopher S.||Patronage incentive saving system and method for retail businesses|
|US20020123949||Dec 17, 2001||Sep 5, 2002||Vanleeuwen Michael J.||System and method for financial management and analysis|
|US20020143614||Mar 27, 2001||Oct 3, 2002||Maclean Trevor Robert||Apparatus and method of facilitating the exchange of points between selected entitles|
|US20020146018||May 18, 2001||Oct 10, 2002||Kari Kailamaki||System for providing wireless application protocol-based services|
|US20020152116||Mar 23, 2001||Oct 17, 2002||Yan Kent J.||Method and system for generating fixed and/or dynamic rebates in credit card type transactions|
|US20020161630||Sep 29, 2000||Oct 31, 2002||Nelnet Loan Services, Inc.||Loyalty reward program for reducing the balance of a loan obligation|
|US20020194069||Feb 27, 2002||Dec 19, 2002||Thakur Sunil V.||Business systems and methods for consumer/vendors interface via the internet to automatically provide discounts|
|US20030004802||Mar 19, 2002||Jan 2, 2003||Jeff Callegari||Methods for providing a virtual coupon|
|US20030004808||Nov 21, 2001||Jan 2, 2003||Mehdi Elhaoussine||Method and system for receiving, storing and processing electronic vouchers with a mobile phone or a personal digital assistant|
|US20030009379||Jun 17, 2002||Jan 9, 2003||Ashok Narasimhan||System and method for providing an automatic purchase reward|
|US20030013438||Jul 22, 2002||Jan 16, 2003||Darby George Eugene||Pocket concierge system and method|
|US20030036425||Aug 6, 2002||Feb 20, 2003||Igt||Flexible loyalty points programs|
|US20030040964||Jul 17, 2002||Feb 27, 2003||Lacek Mark A.||Loyalty currency vending system|
|US20030055722||Sep 19, 2001||Mar 20, 2003||Jagtec, Inc.||Method and apparatus for control of advertisements|
|US20030061097||Aug 12, 2002||Mar 27, 2003||Walker Jay S.||System and method for managing customized reward offers|
|US20030069787||May 22, 2001||Apr 10, 2003||Tendon Consulting Group Kb||Computer system and method for the establishment of a virtual marketplace of promotional values|
|US20030069842||Oct 30, 2001||Apr 10, 2003||Peter Kight||Inter-network electronic billing|
|US20030074311||Oct 16, 2002||Apr 17, 2003||Newattitude Inc.||Self-administered automatic payroll deduction|
|US20030087650||Dec 19, 2002||May 8, 2003||Nokia Corporation||Method and apparatus for providing precise location information through a communications network|
|US20030101131||Oct 31, 2002||May 29, 2003||Warren Mary Carter||System and method for establishing or modifying an account with user selectable terms|
|US20030115456||Jul 17, 2002||Jun 19, 2003||Amit Kapoor||Customizable public key infrastructure and development tool for same|
|US20030130948||Jan 2, 2003||Jul 10, 2003||First Data Corporation||Automated transfer with stored value|
|US20030163425||Feb 26, 2002||Aug 28, 2003||Cannon Thomas Calvin||System for executing high-volume electronic bill payments|
|US20030187762||Mar 26, 2002||Oct 2, 2003||Coyle Robert L.||Cash flow management system|
|US20030200142||Apr 23, 2002||Oct 23, 2003||Heather Hicks||On-line employee incentive system|
|US20030200144||Mar 3, 2003||Oct 23, 2003||Donna Antonucci||System and method for the real-time transfer of loyalty points between accounts|
|US20030208445||Dec 13, 2000||Nov 6, 2003||Craig Compiano||Method and apparatus for mapping sources and uses of consumer funds|
|US20030216960||May 16, 2002||Nov 20, 2003||Richard Postrel||System and method for offering geocentric-based incentives and executing a commercial transaction via a wireless device|
|US20030216967||May 30, 2003||Nov 20, 2003||Eric Williams||Electronic promotions systems|
|US20030229584||Jun 6, 2002||Dec 11, 2003||Total Esolutions, Inc.||Method and system for discount debit card|
|US20040015438||Jan 2, 2003||Jan 22, 2004||First Data Corporation||Methods and apparatus for mapping sources and uses of consumer funds|
|US20040019522||Feb 11, 2003||Jan 29, 2004||Visa U.S.A., Inc.||Multi-application smart card device software solution integrating sales tax, payment and discount rewards|
|US20040019560||Dec 23, 2002||Jan 29, 2004||Evans Scott L.||System and method for debt presentment and resolution|
|US20040035923||Aug 23, 2001||Feb 26, 2004||Andrew Kahr||Process for acquiring new borrowers by funding bill payment|
|US20040039644||Aug 25, 2003||Feb 26, 2004||Richard Postrel||Method and system for aggregation of reward points for payment of auctioned items|
|US20040039692||Apr 29, 2003||Feb 26, 2004||Hyperwallet Systems Inc.||On-line payment system|
|US20040049439||Oct 22, 2002||Mar 11, 2004||David Johnston||Interactive electronic bill payment system|
|US20040068438||Nov 27, 2002||Apr 8, 2004||Mitchell Erica L.||Method for a variable rebate tier structure for card transactions|
|US20040078273||Dec 8, 1999||Apr 22, 2004||Loeb Michael R.||Method and apparatus for relational linking based upon customer activities|
|US20040097287||Nov 14, 2002||May 20, 2004||Richard Postrel||Method and system for gaming over a computer network|
|US20040098317||Jun 27, 2003||May 20, 2004||Richard Postrel|
|US20040107140||Nov 24, 2003||Jun 3, 2004||Richard Postrel|
|US20040128197||Oct 22, 2003||Jul 1, 2004||Vayusa, Inc.||System and method of generating, distributing, and/or redeeming promotional offers using electronic devices|
|US20040215505||Jan 18, 2001||Oct 28, 2004||Sullivan Kevin M.||System and method for administering a brokerage rebate card program|
|US20040220854||Oct 30, 2003||Nov 4, 2004||Richard Postrel||System and method for generating destination specific coupons for a traveler|
|US20040262381||Jun 15, 2004||Dec 30, 2004||Mesaros Gregory J.||Dynamic discount card tied to price curves and group discounts|
|US20050021399||Mar 1, 2004||Jan 27, 2005||Richard Postrel||Method and system for issuing, aggregating and redeeming points based on merchant transactions|
|US20050021400||Apr 28, 2004||Jan 27, 2005||Richard Postrel||Method and system for using multi-function cards for storing, managing and aggregating reward points|
|US20050021401||Apr 28, 2004||Jan 27, 2005||Richard Postrel||Method and system for issuing, aggregating and redeeming merchant loyalty points with an acquiring bank|
|US20050021457||Jul 14, 2004||Jan 27, 2005||Johnson A. Wayne||Financial account up-front incentives management system and method|
|US20050060225||Jun 20, 2003||Mar 17, 2005||Richard Postrel|
|US20050080727||Aug 18, 2004||Apr 14, 2005||Richard Postrel||Method and system for using reward points to liquidate products|
|US20050149394||Mar 25, 2004||Jul 7, 2005||Richard Postrel||Method and system for issuing, aggregating and redeeming merchant loyalty points with an issuing bank|
|US20050240472||Feb 19, 2005||Oct 27, 2005||Richard Postrel||Method and system for implementing a search engine with reward components and payment components|
|US20060004629||Jul 1, 2004||Jan 5, 2006||American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.||Deferred loyalty points redemption method|
|US20060020511||May 11, 2005||Jan 26, 2006||Richard Postrel|
|US20070239523||Apr 3, 2006||Oct 11, 2007||Jun Yi||Method and System for Advanced Reward Program|
|USRE36116||Feb 15, 1996||Feb 23, 1999||Mccarthy; Patrick D.||Centralized consumer cash value accumulation system for multiple merchants|
|EP0308224A2||Sep 15, 1988||Mar 22, 1989||Meridian Enterprises, Inc.||Incentive award system|
|JP8235276A||Title not available|
|JP2003132224A||Title not available|
|1||Advisory Action mailed Feb. 25, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 09/834,478.|
|2||Advisory Action mailed Jan. 9, 2006 in U.S. Appl. No. 09/834,478.|
|3||Advisory Action mailed Mar. 17, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 10/304,251.|
|4||Advisory Action mailed Mar. 2, 2007 in U.S. Appl. No. 09/834,478.|
|5||Advisory Action mailed Mar. 27, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 11/695,911.|
|6||Dialog file 9, #001824832 "UK Retailers"loyal Customers' card Wars Prove Costly Supermarket News, V47, N18, p. 57+, May 5, 1997.|
|7||Fallon: "UK Retailers' Loyal Customer ‘Card Wars’ Prove Costly (Most major retailers in the UK have grown their sales over the past 2 years by launching loyalty-card programs)"; Supermarket News, May 5, 1997; vol. 47, No. 18, p. 57.|
|8||Fallon: "UK Retailers' Loyal Customer 'Card Wars' Prove Costly (Most major retailers in the UK have grown their sales over the past 2 years by launching loyalty-card programs)"; Supermarket News, May 5, 1997; vol. 47, No. 18, p. 57.|
|9||Final Office Action mailed Aug. 9, 2007 in U.S. Appl. No. 10/027,984.|
|10||Final Office Action mailed Dec. 29, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 09/834,478.|
|11||Final Office Action mailed Dec. 4, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 10/304,251.|
|12||Final Office Action mailed Jan. 24, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 11/695,911.|
|13||Final Office Action mailed Jan. 28, 2009 in U.S. Appl. No. 11/695,911.|
|14||Final Office Action mailed Jan. 7, 2009 in U.S. Appl. No. 11/458,019.|
|15||Final Office Action mailed Mar. 11, 2005 in U.S. Appl. No. 09/834,478.|
|16||Final Office Action mailed Nov. 15, 2007 in U.S. Appl. No. 10/304,251.|
|17||Final Office Action mailed Nov. 7, 2007 in U.S. Appl. No. 09/834,478.|
|18||Final Rejection mailed Dec. 28, 2006 in U.S. Appl. No. 09/834,478.|
|19||ISR and Written Opinion mailed Jan. 10, 2002 in PCT/US01/012219.|
|20||ISR and Written Opinion mailed Jan. 12, 2005 in PCT/US04/04457.|
|21||ISR and Written Opinion mailed Jul. 16, 2008 in PCT/US07/78253.|
|22||ISR and Written Opinion mailed Mar. 23, 2000 in PCT/US05/30792.|
|23||ISR and Written Opinion mailed Oct. 2, 2002 in PCT/US02/008408.|
|24||Non-Final Office Action mailed Apr. 3, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 10/027,984.|
|25||Non-Final Office Action mailed Aug. 18, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 11/548,203.|
|26||Non-Final Office Action mailed Aug. 8, 2007 in U.S. Appl. No. 11/695,911.|
|27||Non-Final Office Action mailed Dec. 31, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 11/276,800.|
|28||Non-Final Office Action mailed Jan. 30, 2007 in U.S. Appl. No. 10/027,984.|
|29||Non-Final Office Action mailed Jul. 15, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 11/695,911.|
|30||Non-Final Office Action mailed Jun. 13, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 10/304,251.|
|31||Non-Final Office Action mailed Jun. 2, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 09/834,478.|
|32||Non-Final Office Action mailed Jun. 20, 2007 in U.S. Appl. No. 10/304,251.|
|33||Non-Final Office Action mailed Jun. 27, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 11/458,019.|
|34||Non-Final Office Action mailed May 10, 2007 in U.S. Appl. No. 09/834,478.|
|35||Non-Final Office Action mailed May 9, 2006 in U.S. Appl. No. 09/834,478.|
|36||Non-Final Office Action mailed Nov. 29, 2004 in U.S. Appl. No. 09/834,478.|
|37||Non-Final Office Action mailed Oct. 17, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 10/027,984.|
|38||Non-Final Office Action mailed Sep. 10, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 10/708,570.|
|39||Non-Final Office Action mailed Sep. 9, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 10/708,568.|
|40||Notice of Allowance mailed Apr. 5, 2007 in U.S. Appl. No. 10/084,744.|
|41||Notice of Allowance mailed Aug. 22, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 10/378,456.|
|42||Notice of Allowance mailed Feb. 5, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 09/836,213.|
|43||Notice of Allowance mailed Feb. 5, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 10/010,947.|
|44||Notice of Allowance mailed Jun. 17, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 11/619,512.|
|45||Notice of Allowance mailed Oct. 22, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 11/619,523.|
|46||Requirement for Restriction mailed Dec. 8, 2008 in U.S. Appl. No. 11/276,800.|
|47||Requirement for Restriction mailed Sep. 25, 2006 in U.S. Appl. No. 10/027,984.|
|48||Visa International, New Technologies [online]. 2000 [retrieved on Jun. 19, 2008]. Retrieved from Internet: .|
|49||Visa International, New Technologies [online]. 2000 [retrieved on Jun. 19, 2008]. Retrieved from Internet: <URL:http://web.archive.org/web/20000605185829/visa.com/nt/chip/main.html>.|
|50||WAP WTLS: Wireless Application Protocol Wireless Transport Layer Security Specification, Wireless Applications Forum, Limited, Apr. 30, 1998. [Retrieved on Jan. 19, 2009]. Retrieved from the Internet .|
|51||WAP WTLS: Wireless Application Protocol Wireless Transport Layer Security Specification, Wireless Applications Forum, Limited, Apr. 30, 1998. [Retrieved on Jan. 19, 2009]. Retrieved from the Internet <Oct. 7, 2008>.|
|Citing Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US8229783 *||Apr 22, 2011||Jul 24, 2012||American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.||Identifying industry segments with highest potential for new customers or new spending for current customers|
|US8306846 *||Dec 8, 2011||Nov 6, 2012||First Data Corporation||Transaction location analytics systems and methods|
|US8781874||Feb 29, 2012||Jul 15, 2014||First Data Corporation||Network analytics systems and methods|
|US20110202386 *||Aug 18, 2011||American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.||Identifying industry segments with highest potential for new customers or new spending for current customers|
|US20110213661 *||Sep 1, 2011||Joseph Milana||Computer-Implemented Method For Enhancing Product Sales|
|US20110251907 *||Oct 13, 2011||First Data Corporation||Electronic market tracking and reporting systems and methods|
|US20120084117 *||Apr 5, 2012||First Data Corporation||Transaction location analytics systems and methods|
|US20120089436 *||Dec 8, 2011||Apr 12, 2012||First Data Corporation||Mapping analytics system for activity growth|
|WO2013152444A1 *||Apr 9, 2013||Oct 17, 2013||R&D Consulting Professionals Inc.||Systems and methods for managing a retail network|
|U.S. Classification||705/14.28, 705/14.38, 705/14.3|
|International Classification||G06Q40/00, G06Q20/20, G06Q20/04, G06Q30/02, G06Q30/06, B01J23/89, B01J37/02, B01J23/656|
|Cooperative Classification||G06Q20/042, B01J37/0226, G06Q30/0224, G06Q30/0228, G06Q30/0269, G06Q30/0238, G06Q30/0232, G06Q30/0267, G06Q30/0283, G06Q30/0233, G07F17/3255, G06Q30/0601, G06Q30/02, G06Q30/0209, G06Q20/208, B01J23/8913, G06Q30/0225, G06Q30/0219, G06Q30/0217, B01J23/6562, G06Q30/0208, G06Q30/0235, G06Q30/0613, B01J37/0205, G06Q30/0211, G06Q30/0236, G06Q40/12, G06Q30/0227, G06Q30/0226, G06Q30/0229|
|European Classification||G06Q30/02, G06Q30/0267, B01J23/89C, G06Q30/0226, G06Q30/0219, B01J37/02C8B, G06Q30/0238, G06Q30/0269, G06Q30/0229, G06Q30/0227, G06Q30/0613, G06Q30/0228, G06Q30/0217, G06Q30/0235, G06Q40/10, G06Q30/0236, G06Q30/0224, G06Q30/0233, B01J37/02B4, G06Q30/0283, G06Q30/0211, G06Q30/0225, G06Q20/042, B01J23/656B, G06Q30/0208, G06Q30/0232, G06Q20/208, G06Q30/0601, G06Q30/0209, G07F17/32K10|
|May 1, 2007||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: AMERICAN EXPRESS TRAVEL RELATED SERVICES COMPANY,
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:SENGHORE, MEDINA J.;THOMAS, TRACEY R.;ARIFF, FAUZIAH;REEL/FRAME:019233/0372;SIGNING DATES FROM 20070416 TO 20070426
Owner name: AMERICAN EXPRESS TRAVEL RELATED SERVICES COMPANY,
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:SENGHORE, MEDINA J.;THOMAS, TRACEY R.;ARIFF, FAUZIAH;SIGNING DATES FROM 20070416 TO 20070426;REEL/FRAME:019233/0372
|Feb 6, 2012||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: PROPULSION REMOTE HOLDINGS, LLC, DELAWARE
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:AMERICAN EXPRESS TRAVEL RELATED SERVICES COMPANY, INC.;REEL/FRAME:027656/0527
Effective date: 20111219
|Jul 25, 2014||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4